Art Economics Low Politics Decline Political Theology Power Geopolitics

20 Rules for "Frens"

20 Rules for "Frens"
Photo by Stephanie LeBlanc / Unsplash
A guideline for online discourse

(Based on a popular tweet thread I wrote last year, I am expanding my points about what it means to be a “Fren” for the benefit of those looking to build and foster community in the dissident space)

It’s a common observation that the right has organizational problems. In fact, I have noticed two arrayed in opposition to each other like Scylla and Charybdis.

First, we have a problem with fraud. Being the anti-establishmentarian force in the early 21st century, the right wing is a popular target for opportunists. For people who want to make a name for themselves as guardians of the status quo, against the dangerous forces of “radicalization”. Therefore, being an active subverter of the right-wing through misrepresentation and vilification can be a lucrative career choice.

But in a more mundane sense, there is the garden variety grifter. The people who just want to ride the outrage cycle without moving forward, who push every distraction and drama event to juice out maximum clicks, and who are willing to “punch right” the second it can increase their brand profile. Everyone knows this is a problem, and that the right needs to do better, dig deeper, and impose some common sense gate-keeping.

But it’s just at the point of application of this “common-sense” gate-keeping that the other foot drops, and we fall into the Charybdian pit of purity-spiraling. Anyone who has been in an online right-wing space will know this problem all too well. Since there is no common ideology that unifies the right, no-institutional force, and no emergent power driving spontaneous self-organization, the right is forced to define itself broadly in the negative, as oppositional towards the mainstream.

Of course, we all know that this is insufficient. We all know that we need a deeper belief and a more specific moral and religious vision. However, any attempt to enforce such a standard on the dissident space, generally, will cut an individual off from 99% of the other people active in opposing mainstream power. At the extremes, the “pure believer” will remain as a singleton, a point of opposition in despair against the greater world.

The real beneficiary of these circumstances is the establishment, and the army of grifters making money off selling outrage. Atomized people are easy to control and subvert, generally. They buy more outrage porn, they fuel pointless social media battles, and they lash out in spectacularly ineffective ways which fuels the radicalism of the other side.

But is there an alternative? Can we build some kind of healthy community of dissidents? Can we de-atomize people so they come together with an eye towards opposing the corrosive force of modernity, and building a social order focused on humanity’s spiritual and physical health?

To put the issue a different way, one might say that any anti-progressive force in the modern world faces two obstacles. The first is to build quality community and trust. The second is to avoid succumbing to cancelation and the general entropy of the progressive mainstream. Each of these concerns tends to pull in opposite directions, which is exploited by our enemies to frustrate our efforts toward growth. Navigating these dual objectives presents a riddle for any dissident group to find the fine line between moral enforcement and political viability.

Probably everyone has their own answer to this riddle, but this is my attempt, written as 20 rules for allies, or as we say online, "Frens".

First a disclaimer:

These rules are largely discourse-based and concern relationships that are purely dialectic (online). In a sense, these rules characterize what some people call  "alignment" with the broad dissident movement.

Therefore, these rules are much looser than the set of best practices that should be taken to IRL relationships where the goal is to build long-term trust and real communities.

These rules also do not address the ultimate vision that should guide the improvement of long-lasting human communities going forward. Largely, any organic community would have to possess a SPECIFIC religious and cultural ethos so that no general rules could ever be formed.

But with these disclaimers in place, on to the list.

Rule 1: “A Fren believes in humanity and a higher power.”

We have to start here: there is no value-neutral politics. Of course, politics is fundamentally about coalition building (e.g. friend-enemy) and we want to keep the standards of community general, but I don’t think that it can get more general than humanity’s two essential political priorities:

  1. preserving humanity’s survival in post-modernity and
  2. sustaining humanity’s relationship with God.

Without these two political objectives, there can be no cooperation.

Perhaps we could make the standards more general by replacing “God” with “Truth, Goodness, and Beauty”. But the point would remain more or less intact. The right is the party of human survival and human thriving. This requires dedication both to humanity itself, and some higher moral order. Therefore, in this task, we may have a common cause with some deists, agnostics, and atheists. But we have no common cause with nihilists; we can’t trust them.

Rule 2: “Frens Recognize liberal modernity’s threat to human thriving, and desire a new direction to ensure humanity's survival.”

Putting a finer point on the matter, what is the subject of the right’s political activism? This can be summarized, negatively, as an opposition to the current global order of government-managed technocracy. This system, in its present form, sacrifices long-term human thriving for short-term solvency and power, pushing out older life-giving traditions and displacing people, in order to replace them with the false promises of endless growth and consumer-driven lifestyles.

Although very few people, at this stage don't see that the modern world is in a state of crisis, what characterizes the real "right" (those on the right side of the "red pill") is the understanding that these problems go back to the core of late modernity's presuppositions, if not the enlightenment itself. There is no going back to the 1990s, there is no “return to Fresh Prince", or even the 1950s. Whatever the problem is, it's now buried deep across multiple generations, and any reversal will require a radical break.

Rule 3: "Frens understand that boundaries are a core mechanism to foster independence and health in the face of modern society."

Overwhelmingly, most people concerned with human well-being and aware of modernity's corrosive effect, understand that independence from this system is a necessary component of human survival. To accomplish independence, “Fren” groups seek boundaries and separation from the whole either morally, geographically, or politically. As such, regardless of the differences between the various groups sitting under the dissident umbrella, we are all unified in our common value of independent association for the sake of our own conscience and humanity's broader survival.

In this way also, various different dissident "Fren" groups share a common enemy in the global managerial class, which, for reasons thoroughly described by Bertrand De Jouvenel, is always interested in mankind’s deconstruction and homogenization to push the boundaries of managerial power. It is this central struggle against homogenization and centralization that characterize virtually all near-term goals of dissident politics.

Rule 4: "Frens make promises and keep them. Frens are capable of receiving loyalty and giving it."

So far my list has been negative. Are there any positive qualities of “Frens”? Let's start with the most basic right-wing value, making and keeping promises. If the left wing is antinomian, "entropic", or focused on the politics of dissolving bonds. The right, by contrast, must be focused on the creation and sustenance of bonds. Starting with trust and the keeping of promises. There is no way we can make it through modernity without being true to each other, and we can't be true to each other without being true to our word.

Make promises, keep them, and always be loyal.

In many ways, I see this aspect as both the right wing’s ends and means (or at least where ends and means meet). What people understand now is that there is no "slacktivism" from the right. There is no way that politics can be an entertainment product and still be serious about the future. Maximizing pleasure, para-social fake relationships, and illusionary comfort are the left's game. They always win that contest. For the right to win we need something more.  We need real trust and real relationships.

Which means real, KEPT, promises.

Rule 5: "Frens make their moral commitments explicit (no functional nihilism, no 'View from Nowhere')."

If the base of a dissident position is trust (promise-keeping). What is the superstructure that binds it together? What is the fundamental dialectic tool that links such a diverse and disparate group of people together, allowing them to communicate? In short, this is Formalism.

We say what we mean. We mean what we say. We express what we believe, and our own moral boundaries in concise language. And we don't use functional nihilism and pure critique to score cheap "wins" against rival parties.

Immediately it should be obvious to see the practical utility of formal commitments and beliefs. You can't have boundaries and borders without clear lines. You can't have an actual conversation without clear language. You can't have understanding without clear meaning. This is why the basic, simple, beliefs are the most important; the principles that you can communicate and the moral lines around which you constrain your behavior and allegiance.

All and all, we should strive to be clear with our beliefs (mystery cults are not good!). But generally, explicitly stated principles should be a PRACTICAL pre-requisite for people working together in a diverse coalition.

Men need to express their commitments explicitly, first so that they can be respected, but also so that the position of "pure critique" cannot be used to maliciously deconstruct genuine beliefs while never defining a positive solution.

This was the problem with the new atheist movement and virtually all modern movements on the left. The "view from nowhere issue" always sounds smart, and defeats any other position in a debate. Yet ultimately these negative worldviews do little more than drive drama and create a race to the bottom toward moral cynicism.

Rule 6: "Frens make an effort to understand other Frens’ core loyalties."

There is nothing that I respect more than a true believer. And I understand the need to insulate yourself from other ideas that are alien, heretical, or would otherwise feed the modern fire of doubt inside your own mind and soul.

However, we are building a broad coalition that needs to work together, and being a leader means not being insulated from ideas that may be foreign or hostile. We need to know ourselves, and know our enemies, but know our allies no less because this is key to establishing boundaries, order, and peace. Pretty simple concept, but sometimes hard to execute. Just remember to keep asking questions, always assume conflict with other “Frens” is due to a misunderstanding, and try to intellectualize disagreements to minimize their impact. The last thing we want is an ever-escalating holy war in our own ranks while we stand divided against the more existential threats of modernity.

Rule 7: "Frens respect other Frens’ boundaries, even if those boundaries exclude them."

A related note, but one that is qualitatively different. We all need to respect each other’s boundaries. Is this too obvious after two previous points about WHY we need boundaries in the first place? Perhaps. But here I want to address the emotional elephants in the room: the issue of discrimination and exclusion.

I know that we are all post-leftists. We know that any real human community MUST include a dimension of exclusion. But when the discrimination cuts against you, in the moment, you might forget this eternal truth, and relapse into shitlib spergery. In the immortal words of Marsellus Wallace, that's pride f--ing with you. We need to be adults about this. Of course, everyone is justified in being concerned that others are conspiring against their interests. But not every space is for you, not every context is suited for your presence. Adults understand the necessity to respect certain boundaries of religion and ethnicity. But also the necessity of certain boundaries of age and lifestyle.

For instance, I can admit to myself here, that at my age I will never be cool. I can offer wisdom for what it is, but my temperament is totally unsuited for more posh urban circles. Knowing these types of limitations, and being at peace with them, is the first step towards not being a sperg.

Rule 8: "Frens attempt to de-escalate drama and dissolve disagreements."

So now that we have established that our task is to build order and life. Let's talk about the enemy of order: Chaos. Chaos is an expansive spiritual concept. But the most common way it enters into human communities is through politics, or what we often time call politics in more personal situations: "drama".

Drama is the cause of most of the problems on social media, but also the driver of all "clout", which, if we are honest, is a major reason why any of us do any of this stuff.

This leads to the phenomenon of the "internet of beefs". There is really nothing better for your own profile than to start random conflict and drama online. But there is really nothing worse than for the community or any building anything lasting for the future.

Anyone who has been doing this for any amount of time will recognize this issue. It is amazing how thoroughly petty personal disputes destroy communities. Even in the last year, so many bonds forged with massive efforts and expensive feats of organization were torn apart by the drama on Twitter. It's tragic when you think about it. But that's how human psychology works. The internet is driven by effeminate fighting, but real things only come from masculine concordance in real life.

For this reason, it is imperative to all community members, content creators in particular, to de-escalate drama when possible. Try to intellectualize disagreements. Unravel and dissolve disputes that don't lead anywhere. And focus always on productivity and expansion.

Rule 9: "Frens refrains from insulting core loyalties of other Frens."

But given that everyone knows that drama is bad and leads to bad things. Why does it erupt so frequently? One major reason is, again, not understanding or respecting verbal boundaries.

We should remember here, the notion of “fighting words”. Expressions and statements that, when made, are rightfully perceived as hostile attacks on the object, and require an escalation of the conflict (verbal or physical). There are certain fine lines that people should have been taught in school, the lines that surround a man’s core loyalties.

These obviously include deities or other direct focal points of religion, words describing "God", peoples' children, wives, mothers, and families generally. And of course direct attacks on men's integrity or women's virtue.

Back in the day, insulting these things landed you right into a fistfight. On the internet, we can't enforce these boundaries, but let's still respect the lesson IRL interaction should have taught us.

Rule 10: "Frens maintain care around secondary loyalties."

Ok, so maybe the core loyalties are clear no-go zones? But isn't there a large gray area for banter and locker-room talk? For memes? For intellectual discussion. People can be a little more forgiving around identities and relationships that aren't directly sacred or personal. Still, we need to be very careful.

I do think a certain amount of mockery is allowable in the right context, when it comes to certain racial, religious, and national identities. These are what I call "secondary loyalties". Loyalties that, while still critical, can be held more lightly, because in most contexts (when not directly threatened by politics or war) they don't need to be defended, and can therefore be joked about among friends.

As Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino demonstrated, some light ethnic bigotry can be charming. And most racists don't care about what race you are as long as you are racist too. But due diligence is necessary, the proper relationship and demeanor need to be established. Be careful of testing these boundaries out in public spaces (Twitter) unless it is very obviously a joke. Loyalties, even secondary ones, can start real fights. And also, steer clear of these areas altogether if some spectrum disorder prevents you from picking up on subtle context queues.

Rule 11: "Frens never punch right (no moral denouncements)."

This is a rule that people know, but that needs quite a bit more explanation to execute properly.

The left's tactic is to divide and conquer. It is a slow ratchet that relies on conservatives providing "outreach" to their left and "gatekeeping to their right. Each of these services, in turn, expands the horizons for the progressive movement while guarding its flank.

Under these circumstances, dissidents' main problem is a mainstream right that can't do anything effective OTHER than counter-signal against its more principled members and facilitate a dialectic where they are always the default losers.

And we experience the sharp end of this problem, every time boomer normie-cons pile on some ill-conceived cancellation campaign based on their enemy's progressive sensibilities.

Solution? Well. Don't punch right. Simple as.

But it's actually not that simple.

The right still needs dialectic, moral boundaries, and intelligent discussion. Embracing the grug-brained version of the "Don't Punch Right" meme is a straight path towards a purity spiral and total community brain drain.

It turns out we don't actually want bigotry, sociopathy, or callousness just because it's BASED and on the right. But given that any moral enforcement internally causes a wedge that can be exploited by our enemies to dissolve the coalition, what can we do?

Really, this is an extended conversation but it begins with understanding how the left-wing cancelation cycle works.

Leftist cancelation operates by moralizing, smearing, and collectivizing a moral panic. Casting all political differences as moral failings (moralizing), then vague language, what I sometimes call magic words are used to equivocate and magnify the panic (smearing), and finally, guilt by association is used to trigger (collectivizing) denouncements.

Essentially, "not punching right" comes down to arresting this process of cancelation at all stages while preserving the other elements of ordinary human moral policing and enforcement.

We can start with the first stage of the cancelation process and address the issue of cynical moralization. Or what some also call leftist “concern trolling”.

This is a problem. We know there are divisions between those on the right, important, and religious ones that represent morals that we take seriously. However, this seriousness must be held in line with the political reality of leftist subversion.

The first step is to be aware of the moral direction of the left and the fads it uses, cynically, for its own end. Of course, an idea isn't wrong just because the progressive Cathedral is promoting it. But you don't want to allow your enemies' momentary lapse of clarity to become a tool for your communities' destruction. Therefore, we have to find healthy ways of resolving moral conflicts internally.

My preferred way of addressing this issue relies on a three-stage process that I call DIS:

De-escalate, Intellectualize, and Separate.

First, de-escalate, make sure that you try to remove emotion and explicit attack on the honor or other allied individuals or communities. Second, intellectualize the problem by framing the disagreement as a contention over factual matters or some complicated ethical contention. Frame the task to properly STATE the disagreement in a way that your opponent agrees with and develop a commonly understood list of what each side wants and the lines each can't cross. Finally, separate, develop space for each moral system to operate and rules that can prevent the disagreement from escalating further. To the extent that there is a disagreement over boundaries, seek arbitrage from a third party or higher authority.

With this framework, political division can still be allowed, purity spiraling minimized, without opening too many cracks for progressive subversion.

Rule 12:  "Frens avoid counter-signaling (jumping on Cathedral bandwagons or cancellation campaigns)."

Here we must address halting the next stage of the progressive cancelation process, the issue of smearing language. Again, anyone who has spent long in the dissident space is well aware of how mainstream conservatives play into this process. They become co-owners of the left’s own terminology, therefore they become the unwitting enforcers of the left's own moral system. As much as they complain about cancel culture, their actions are actually driving it.

In short, the mainstream right is addicted to counter-signaling their own activist class. How do we stop this stupid counter-signaling? How do we stop the ratchet without falling into mere contrarianism?

Here I think the issue is actually pretty easy. Leftist linguistic smearing relies on a certain kind of tactical equivocation that I have called "Magic Words". These "Magic Words" are words with deep emotional and political consequences for those labeled with them, but no real specific meaning that can be consistently defined. As such, these words are just transport for the will of progressive power. Their enemies are always punished, and their allies are always spared with no ethical consistency or coherency required.

How do we respond to these "Magical Words"?

This is a hard nut to crack. Every now and again dissidents can “reclaim” one of these "Magic Words" and use them effectively against the Cathedral. But this is the exception and not the rule. For the most part, Magical Words, like the one Ring of Sauron, are owned by the power that created them.  We need to avoid their use.

Remember, while we form language, language also forms us. We think we can control it, but more often than not we can't. So, unless you are really confident in what you are doing, it's best to keep the black tongue of Mordor out of your mouth.

As an aside, I can here list an example from my own online presence. Among right-wingers, I have, from the beginning, been rather outspoken in my feeling that race should be de-emphasized (as far as possible). But still, I never use the word "racism" to describe my disagreement with others who want to emphasize the more ethnic dimensions of the crisis. Not only is the word rendered meaningless by equivocation, it is a dangerous dialectic poison and weapon that will eventually be used against me, if I give it power.

Rule 13: "Frens make themselves strong enough to hold the line, or make room for those who can."

And here finally is the last line of defense against the progressive cancelation cycle, which is no less than the last line of defense against any spiritual or physical attack: fortitude.

We need to hold the line.

Bravery is essential because so much of the left's cancel culture power is based on fear, the cascading nature of cancelations where implied guilt by association triggers denouncement after denouncement. People are afraid. Afraid of losing their careers, their reputations, and their relationships with family and friends. So they panic. They cave. They give in.

But at some point, this has to stop. People need to stand up and speak up. Take risks. Expose themselves to criticism, and ignore the enemy’s threats when they ask for another head to be delivered unto them.

Look, we all need to manage our exposure and privacy individually. We need to decide just how much we can give to this larger effort when there are other things in our lives, other people who rely on us. But that being said, there is a responsibility attendant when we step forward to represent our resistance and defend the community. Make yourself a point of strength, don't throw others under the bus to be the "good one", and don't betray those who have put their trust in you because it’s easier or better for your public profile. Don't let down the man standing next to you by retreating then reframe the issue as “self-care”. This is a collective effort, and we have to take responsibility to stand with each other in times of crisis.

Are these requirements too stringent to be met at this stage of your life? That's fine. Maybe it's time to sit out a round. Take a more subdued role in this project. There is plenty of work to be done behind the scenes and plenty of other people waiting to take your place on the front lines.

Rule 14: "Frens always stay building."

This is something that I have often said over the years. Always be building. But I think it's become clear, post-COVID, that there is no victory to be gained through clout and politics. Winning has to produce something. It can't just be winning for the sake of feeling like you are winning, so you can flex and feel good about yourself.

We have to build the future we want.

This means that all action taken inside the community has to leave something substantive behind you. More resources for other “Frens” to use, better Wisdom, broader networks, "best practices" and institutions that can facilitate the creation of new things, political or otherwise.

A lot of people push back on Curtis Yarvin’s later work, but one of his recent observations needs to be etched in stone. "A victory is anything that makes future victories easier or more likely."

Whenever you set your mind or will to accomplish something, begin with the end in mind. Ask what does this produce? How does this make a better world substantively in the present? How does this make victories easier to produce in the future?

With this in mind, we can stay focused on the real task ahead of us, creating order and life that we can pass down to our children and future generations.

Rule 15: "Frens never dox or harass non-institutional targets."

Alright. This is just following the terms of service for most social media sites.

But still, I think we need to understand the broader boundaries when it comes to cultural warfare. We don't want to attack non-combatants, we don't use valuable resources to spread the scope of war. As we try to achieve order, spreading Chaos and terror is simply counterproductive.

For this reason, “Frens” do not dox, harass, or viciously attack private persons.

As a Christian, I obviously believe that war has ethical boundaries that need to be respected. Certain things are off-limits to attack. But setting aside even this broader moral perspective, prosecuting cultural total war is simply bad politics, from a strictly Machiavellian perspective.

As men of the right, we are agents of order. And order has to be both our end and our means. We need to represent in war, the mode of rulership that we would want to live under in peace. That's how people begin to trust your promises. That's how people begin to follow your banner and believe in a better world.

And, as I am want to remind people, this is a war of belief.

Rule 16: "Frens always pursue self-improvement."

There is a constant refrain. Become worthy then rule. It's become so often repeated that the words have become cliché and trite. Even the recommendations probably aren't very original here. Pursue excellence physical, intellectual, familial, and spiritual. The right-wing gym-bro culture is a win in itself.

Still, in spite of what's gone before, I still feel like I need to say something about the quest for improvement generally.

This is something that a lot of older Millennials will recognize; but wasn't the quest for self-improvement easier when we were younger?

It's not just the material conditions or the physical reality of getting older. For my generation, the gradual decline in optimism was the deepest cut. During my youth, America and the West had a bright future ahead of it, everything was on the up. When I improved myself, I was improving my future, improving the world, moving the boundaries and the prospects of humanity ever upwards.

But now? In the middle of obvious and metastasizing decline? You can't improve faster than things are getting worse. No matter how much effort you put into things, you will never see macro-cosmic "progress". It's the Red Queen Principle. You have to run fast just to stand still. And no matter how much you improve, you won't overcome the downward slide of everything around you.

In this context, I think, there is a crisis of motivation among Millennials. I am not the only one who has noticed this. But after a point, my generation just sorta "gave up". The natural pull at this stage of modernity is to regress.   To the extent that any of us don't want to be part of the problem, we need to fight this instinct of decline.

In every context in which you strive, in every location where you live, there needs to be a constant movement towards betterment, towards improvement, towards order.

The rest of the world might be going to pot but that does not change our moral imperative. We need to be the tiny bubble of civilization inside of a world of barbarism. We need to be the beacon of sanity in clown world. The point of stability in a sea of chaos.

Again this is what necessarily differentiates us from our enemies. Sometimes people ask me the various ways in which a person can recognize good from evil, an ordered spiritual presence from a Demonic one. Traditionally this had one very common answer. The sinful are chaotic, discordant, and two-faced. The holy are constant and stable in time.

Pursue that constancy.

Rule 17: "Frens always expand the coalition (finds new Frens)."

Perhaps this is an extension of the previous rule, or simply a restatement of the core purpose of finding “Frens” to begin with, but we are building a coalition.

No one is yet naïve enough to still believe in individualism in 2023, right? Winter is coming. Times are dark. Enemies are expensive. Friends are invaluable, and we need alliances everywhere to function in a globalized world.

Sometimes, I think there is some resistance to this more unifying direction by some very online types. There is a kind of person who likes disrupting things and creating drama because they want to be a big fish in a small pond. In this regard, growth can be threatening to ego and clout. But hopefully, after everything that we have seen, we can get past this more juvenile way of thinking. We need to grow or die. So it's time to get to work.

Rule 18: "Frens give and receive constructive criticism."

Speaking of Egos. Another necessary component of survival will be humility, the ability to take criticism. We can't improve unless we can sustain disagreement, obviously. But we also can't improve unless we can receive direct criticism, no matter how painful that may be.

This is obviously easier said than done. Speaking as a content creator who has essentially poured an enormous amount of his life into this movement, there is nothing I hate more than having an anonymous Twitter troll tell me that I haven't "worked hard enough".  And I don't think that any productive conversations have been started by moral posturing.

Really, prudence is needed. If you want to communicate a need to improve, or helpful suggestions, reach out in private. It’s even better if this can be communicated in person. In all likelihood, you need to build a relationship before anything real can be accomplished.

But I suppose always there is a reciprocal side of things. Content creators in particular need to keep their egos in check. We need to remember that we aren't bigger men just because we have bigger voices on social media. We are just teachers, servants.

And as servants, we need to listen and obey.

Rule 19: "Frens forgive mistakes when asked."

We have already discussed several marks of evil, chaotic temperament, lack of constancy, and an inability to build. Let's discuss another, the inability to extend forgiveness. People don't talk about this a lot on the right wing. But the ability to forgive is not only a sign of goodness but also a sign of strength. Its absence is a sign of evil and also a sign of weakness.

When I myself was progressive, the complete inability of powerful leftists to conceptualize true reconciliation was one of the first truly evil things I noticed about the movement. Really, this lack of forgiveness occurred gradually in progressives as a product of their own cultural degeneration.

This degeneration must be arrested in our own case.

Of course, there is always the need for justice, and to hold people accountable. But more often than not these instincts that well up inside of us are born out of pride and vindictiveness, not a genuine pursuit of righteousness. Again, the internet has played a large part in bringing this bad element out in people. But always remember to put yourself in your opponent’s shoes. We are all in this mess together. We are all part of the problem. We are all the misbegotten children of this modern evil.

If we can come through it all, with all of our own flaws and sins, and still call ourselves "good enough", why can't we extend this life-giving charity to our own rivals?

Rule 20: "Frens know others by their fruits."

Finally, and most succinctly. There is no replacement for genuine quality, genuine virtue, and genuine goodness. As Christ himself said. We know who is worthy of following by the good they leave to the world. This is an instruction as much as it is a warning. Remember to observe people in their actions, what they sacrifice for, and how they conduct themselves. Observe them in their words and interactions online, but more importantly in their comportment in the physical world.

No institution is better than the people who make it up. No law or constitution is stronger than the promises of those who write it, pledge allegiance to it, and fight in its name. If this movement is to succeed and accomplish anything it must rely on the virtues and loyalties of the people who make it up. And as such we must seek goodness and virtue in others and cultivate it in ourselves.

For a while, this temporal goodness will be enough to sustain us. But as things may grow darker, we will need to reach for higher things. Piety? Holiness? Sainthood? It's a daunting proposition, but not a task we need to pursue alone.

We have the help of God. And, god-willing, the help of Friends.