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Why I am not a Capitalist…Wait! What!?

I have repeatedly voiced my view in print, that I am as opposed to Capitalism as I am to Communism, because both reflect a material, consumption-centric view of not only the world, but society and culture as well. One of the things I’ve had problems with, as a result, is explaining to students in classes,when they have asked, how I can label myself a “capitalist,” when I am opposed to “Capitalism” as a social philosophy.

Perhaps the simplest explanation I have used is that the difference lies in the capitalization of the first letter. Just like there is a vast difference between a republican and a Republican, there is a difference between a capitalist and a Capitalist. In both examples, in the first—lower case—situation, you have someone who believes in a philosophy (one political, one economic). In the second case, you have someone who adheres to a Party Doctrine, regardless of where and how that doctrine transgresses the underlying philosophy it purports to be based on.

That still fulfilled only a small portion of the explanation, I found however, and as anyone who has ever been in a class with me will gleefully—or sorrowfully, depending on their outlook—I firmly believe that old adage “God is in the details,” and I am sincere in my attempt to make sure people get access to the details. Fortunately, in our efforts to increase the resilient productivity of our small family farm, I managed to delve into what I will, for ease of explanation, call “a school of agricultural philosophy” called Permaculture.

As I dug deeper into the rich soil of Permaculture (and those readers familiar with Permaculture just start cackling at the double meaning in that phrase), I kept coming across references to the “eight forms of capital.” Initially, as I read the original articles on the concept, I assumed it was typical Leftist, pro-Marxist nonsense, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to me. Then I discovered that even among business economics literature, there are references to at least “six forms of capital.”

While I was initially introduced to the concept of multiple forms of capital two or three years ago, as a codified concept, and it made intuitive sense to me, based on my own world view anyway, I really started putting concerted thought into the subject a few months ago. This article then, has been percolating in my brain since at least the beginning of the year.

The Eight Forms of Capital

The Oxford Dictionary has a couple of relevant definitions of “capital.” These include: “Wealth in the form of money or other assets owned by a person or organization or available for a purpose such as starting a company or investing,”(emphasis added) and “A valuable resource of a particular kind.” Too often, when we consider “capitalism,” we think only of the financial aspect, defining all assets in financial terms.

The Eight Forms of Capital however, include: Intellectual Capital, Spiritual Capital, Social Capital, Material Capital, Experiential Capital, Cultural Capital, Living Capital, and—of course—Financial Capital.

Intellectual Capital is simply knowledge that has value, to ourselves or to others. When students come to a Mountain Guerrilla class, or they purchase one of the Reluctant Partisan books, or Forging the Hero, they are expressing their interest in the intellectual capital that I possess, and they want. When I go buy a book on Permaculture, or I take a class, I am engaging in a transaction that involves Intellectual Capital.

Spiritual Capital is a little harder to define. Karma, Faith, Grace, these are all examples of spiritual capital. In my belief system, the frith that binds our clans together is a significant aspect of spiritual capital, as are the gifts—genetic and cultural—of my ancestors, that provide my physical and mental fitness, and the work ethic to maintain them.

Social Capital is also represented by frith, in the form of the social obligations that exist within the community of the clan. When I drop what I am doing at the farm, to drive forty miles to help one of the clan move a refrigerator, I am losing financial capital that I could be making through working, but I am building social capital that I know—experientially, since it happens regularly—will be repaid when I need a hand with something myself.

Social capital can further be defined as anything that helps us—provides profit—in social interactions with people. A solid grounding in common courtesy and etiquette is a form of social capital. Good grooming and personal hygiene is a form of social capital. All three of these provide great benefit when meeting new people, as well as strengthening existing relationships within your clan and community.

Material Capital is something that most Americans—and an even larger percentage of “preppers”—are intrinsically familiar with. Simply put, material capital is all the “stuff” you possess.

Experiential Capital are those experiences that we have had that provide benefit to us still. From bad relationships in the past (the ones we learned from, anyway), to different jobs and hobbies we have had, anything we have experienced, where the experience goes deeper than the intellectual lessons learned, is experiential capital. We all “know” that physical fitness is important. Anyone who has had to crawl several thousand feet up a mountain, and then move through enemy gunfire, however, has experiential understanding of the value of physical fitness of a far deeper level than the intellectual understanding. This is the difference, discussed in my last article, between intellectual knowledge gained in school, and experiential knowledge gained from life experience.

Cultural Capital are those benefits gained by membership in a culture, whether by birth or adoption. This is related to the concept of cultural inheritance. This is also very, VERY culturally specific. Someone raised in modern, western culture, even on a remote, off-grid homestead in the mountains of Idaho, has a significantly different view of the universe than someone raised in a small tribal village in the wild jungles of Amazonia. Drop them both off in Manhattan, and that hillbilly kid from Idaho is going to have a very, VERY significant advantage over the Amazonian, despite not being part of mainstream American culture. He still has cultural capital, as a result of growing up within the larger culture, and the culture inheritance of western classical liberalism. This can be seen, even in language. We see comedic movies made about the poor farm kid moving to the big city, but most of us who grew up poor farm kids, and then moved to the big city realize, it really wasn’t THAT big of a struggle to fit in, at least marginally well, if for no other reason than we had cultural capital as a result of shared language and understanding the definitions of words and sentences.

Drop that kid off in the Amazon though, without specific cultural training, and he’s going to be hosed. A great cinematic example of this is the 2015 Eli Roth movie The Green Inferno. (Important editorial note: 1) I don’t particularly like modern movies. 2) I particularly LOATHE “horror” movies as sheer stupidity. It is a regular point of contention with HH6. I use this example because she convinced me to watch it with her, and it popped into my mind while I was thinking of this…). A bunch of do-gooder Leftists run off the Amazonia to “Save the Rainforests!” and most of them get eaten by the local cannibal tribe they thought they were there to help. Life is tough. It’s tougher when you’re stupid.

Greg “Gorillafritz” Ellifritz, of Active Response Training, posted an article about the recent stabbing on the Portland, Oregon mass transit train, wherein he pointed out that most “middle-class” folks tend to forget—or not even know—that the Emotionally Damaged Person (EDP) that is ranting and raving like a lunatic, in public, has a moral code…but it ain’t yours, so expecting him to act like you would act is folly. Your moral code is cultural capital. His is cultural capital, but it is an entirely different culture.

Because of the globalization of the “one world, one (consumer) culture” of modern mercantilism, we are encouraged to ignore cultural differences, to the point that most people never even realize that our cultural capital is only capital within our culture or related cultures.

Living Capital are things like the plants in your garden, the chickens in your henhouse, etc. They are things that are alive, and only provide you benefit through the fact of life. Someone once offered to sell me a pig. I was dating a girl at the time whose sister and brother-in-law had a small hobby farm that was largely a petting zoo for their kids. In the interest of building rapport with the girl, I agreed to buy the pig, thinking I would just give it to the sister and brother-in-law. What the dude neglected to mention was…the pig had died the night before, of unknown causes. That pig had no capital value to me. Until it died, it had capital for him, because it had the possibility of being slaughtered and turned into bacon and sausage. (For the record, I didn’t buy the pig. I would have, since I had already agreed, and I was the dumbass that didn’t think to ask, “Why are you selling the pig?” fortunately, the guy took pity on me and refused to sell it.)

Finally, we arrive at the form of capital most familiar to us: Financial Capital. This is money and any other form of money replacement, such as stocks and bonds, treasury notes, BitCoin, etc. It also includes gold and silver. Here is the thing though: despite protestations to the contrary, Financial Capital is ALWAYS fiat currency. Gold has XXX value, only because someone is willing to agree that it has XXX value. You cannot eat it. You cannot doctor an injury or an illness with it. You cannot sow it on your garden to increase yield.


If I can use some of my financial capital to purchase material capital, then financial capital is beneficial. If I need a building to shelter my family from the elements, but no one has one they are willing to sell me at a price within my financial reach, then financial capital is useless to me. I might as well not have ANY money, for all the good it will do me. On the other hand, if I need a building to shelter my family from the elements, and no one has one they are willing to sell me at a price within my financial reach, but I have the experiential and intellectual capital to build one from scratch, out in the woods, I can at least house my family. If I have the social capital, I may be able to convince someone within my clan to allow my family to stay with them for awhile. In both cases, financial capital was not the grease, but that is still capitalism.

If I can use some of my financial capital to purchase living capital—as I did when I bought our farm—then it is useful. If no one will sell me chickens, or vegetables, for any price that I can afford financially, but I have the knowledge to raise the chickens myself, or to plant seed and harvest vegetables from a garden, I have experiential and intellectual capital to leverage to my gain.

If I can use financial capital to pay for the services of a hooker for the night, I can get my ashes hauled. If however, I cannot afford the services of a call girl, or I believe prostitution is inherently evil, and thus would never consider paying for her services, then financial capital does me no good. Perhaps I can flash some cash and convince some local trollop to put out, in the hope that I will date or marry her, and she will get access to my supposed financial wealth that way. Easier—and in the long-term, far more rewarding, in my experience—is to utilize social and cultural capital to woo a young lady. After all, just like your mother (hopefully) taught you as a youngster, the ones that are after your money, are not the kind of girls you want to marry…

The point of this is not that “money is evil.” Money is in inanimate object and an idea. The point of this is that, rather than looking at all things through the lens of finance and money, look around you—especially within your own clan and community—and see what other forms of capital you have access to, and how you can exchange them with others in your community for your mutual benefit.

One of the things I’ve pointed out previously is that relying on finance for commerce is the antithesis of freedom, independence, and autarky. By definition, you are allowing someone else to determine value for you. “Oh, the dollar is worth XXX amount.” Well, if Item A is priced at XXX dollars, then someone else—by fucking definition—just determined what the value of that object was. Not the seller, and not the buyer, but rather, an outside agent, neither of whom the seller or buyer probably knows.

Engaging in non-financial capitalism is also a way to legally reduce your tax burden. Sure, if I WORK for someone, in exchange for something, that is taxable as wages. But, if I simply ask for something, and someone gives it to me, because of social capital, and later, they ask me to help them move a refrigerator into their house, and I do it, because of social capital, there was no barter there, so there was no taxable transaction. If you bitch about “taxation is theft,” but you insist that every transaction must be measured in dollar value, you are kidding yourself.

I don’t particularly enjoy taxation myself, but I am also astute enough to know that the society never existed that didn’t pay taxes, in one form or another, and whining about it through social media memes like #TaxationIsTheft isn’t going to change that.

I don’t particularly like the Federal Reserve, or the stranglehold the Central Bank has on the economy, internationally, nationally, or even in my local community, but I also know that every time I measure the value of something in financial capital, I am strengthening the Central Bank. If, on the other hand, I have something, and one of the people in my clan wants it or needs it, and I give it to them, because they are part of my clan, that is a giant “Fuck off and die” to the Federal Reserve, the central bankers, and the tax man, all at once.

The Gift Exchange Economy has taken a disturbing turn in recent years, because of the prevalence of people writing about it from a Leftist angle in modern society. From people who believe, “If I believe in the goodwill of all people, and I ask nice, people will just give me things,” and then find that belief reinforced (see “The Moneyless Manifesto” by Mark Boyle, and do a Google search on “Freeconomic Living” for examples of this tragicomic, farcical doppleganger of the gift exchange economy), to people who simply cannot imagine an economy not based on some sort of extrinsic medium of exchange, whether federal reserve notes, gold, or silver, the fact that the vast, vast majority of mankind never put their hands on a single, solitary piece of “money” or “coinage” throughout the human experience is hard to fathom. Yet, people—for the most part—managed to survive, and lead, by their measures (which really, is the only measure that matters) happy, fulfilled lives, without ever possessing a single piece of financial capital.

You want independence? You want freedom? You want community resilience? Then start building it. I am not suggesting abandoning money. Doing so, as I charge financial capital for classes and book, would be somewhat hypocritical (although not entirely). There are a lot of material, intellectual, and experiential capital items that are simply outside of our reach, without financial capital. Whether those things are critical to survival and happiness is open to debate, depending on cultural values, but that is another discussion.

At the end of the day though, the song was right, “money can’t buy you love.” All jokes about “reasonable facsimiles thereof,” aside, money is only useful for its ability to be leveraged into exchange for other forms of capital. If you can procure those other forms of capital, in the amounts needed, without financial capital, you lessen your dependence on outside sources, increasing resilience. If you can focus more effort on increasing your social, intellectual, and experiential capital, and less on increasing your financial capital, you might just find that you have a happier, more fulfilling life, surrounded by kith-and-kin, rather than surrounded by jackass co-workers you wouldn’t piss on if they spontaneously combusted.

The Only Call to Action For Me

Chapter Three of my book, Forging the Hero: Who Does More Is Worth More, opens with a quote from English antiquarian and author, the late H.R. Ellis-Davidson (1914-2006), from her book Gods and Myths of Northern Europe:

The mythology of a people is far more than a collection of pretty or terrifying fables to be retold in carefully bowdlerized form to our schoolchildren. It is the comment of the men of one particular age or civilization on the mysteries of human existence and the human mind, their model for social behavior, and their attempt to define, in stories of gods and demons, their perception of inner realities.”

There is a lot of value in that statement, for building inherent resilience into our local community cultures, even if you are not a dirty, unwashed heathen like myself.

As I went on to point out in that chapter, one of the side effects of the decadence of the Age of Affluence discussed by Glubb in The Fate of Empires was the impact of the rise of intellectualism in a society. He pointed to the parallels between the Caliphate (the first Caliphate, not the resurgent one we are currently in conflict with) and our contemporary Western civilization quite poignantly, as well as to evidence from the Biblical book Acts of the Apostles, of the same issues having arisen in Hellenic culture: “…all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.

In our own time, we’ve watched the unending debates of physically and mentally soft blowhards in the elected legislatures of the western world, the media, and our local communities. “Woe is us! Woe is us! What should we do? What can we do!? We cannot offend! We cannot harm! Violence only breeds more violence!” We see issues debated in the partisan press; incessant talking and bickering, name-calling, and insults. Meanwhile, too few have been willing to stand up—even among the most fervent on either side of a debate—and place their own social, professional, and political futures on the line, and say, “alright, so we have talked this shit to death. Nothing has changed. Now, we are going to just go ahead and do it my way, because you bastards can’t come to a conclusion. Shut the hell up and get out of my way!

When someone does—ever so rarely—decide to sacrifice himself on the altar of action, the other side quickly bemoans the “lack of bispartisanship,” and “spirit of democracy,” even if the precipitous action worked and solved the problem. If the actor was on the Right, he is quickly mocked as a fascist or Nazi, and even his erstwhile allies are quick to abandon ship, lest they be tarred with the same ridiculous brush. If the actor is on the Left, they are just as quickly mocked with equally fatuous labels of “Marxist!” or “Communist!” even when their proposals have nothing to do with Marx’s scribblings. No one, on either side, has been willing to accept being called names, even though our forebears were willing to challenge each other to duels on the floor of Congress.

Regardless, this spirit of Athenian debate seems to be, like elsewhere, predicated on the destruction of the spirit of action that was necessary to the founding of empire. The rise of each empire’s Age of Intellect seems to be a good thing, at least initially. Surprising advances are made in the sciences, and in the understanding of the physical world and nature. In the ninth-century when the Christian world of Europe would require another seven centuries to grasp that, in fact, the world was not flat, and that personal hygiene prevented disease transmission, Mohammedan scientists in the commission of Caliph al-Ma’mun determined the circumference of the Earth to within 200 kilometers, and bathing was a religious precept.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “intellectualism” is defined as “the exercise of the intellect at the expense of the emotions.” In turn, “intellect” is defined as “the faculty of reasoning or understanding, objectively, especially with regard to abstract or academic matters.” At first glance, either of these seems particularly nefarious. This is fortunate, since the intellect has a definite, positive role to play in life and survival, and the rise of mankind as a species. When we begin looking at it through the prism of the collective experience of human nature however, and witness the resulting expression of this intellectualism with the social and political discourse at the height of imperial power, we begin to see the deleterious effects on life and cultural survival.

The most damnable result of the rise of intellectualism, is the growth within the collective psyche of a people, of the idea that the human brain can overcome nature, and solve all of the perceived problems of the world. It is the same belief that “imperialism is bad!” that drives the belief that “imperialism is good!” as subjects of political philosophical debate.

The archaeological, anthropological, and historiographic record of the collective human experience pretty clearly indicates that, in order for any human cultural activity to succeed, some form of community must be engaged in the collective effort towards the achievement of the goal. In order for that to take place, the members of the community must be willing to sacrifice self to some degree, and act in a spirit of service to the community. The idealist naivete of “reason always prevails,” or that mental cleverness alone can resolve the world’s problems, without physical effort or community participation, falls flat, as soon as a foe is met who is willing to stop talking, and start chopping the heads off the intellectuals.

Intellectualism is not Intelligence

Before we can begin to recognize the impact that the Age of Intellect—and the reactionary anti-intellectualism, has on us, and our efforts to preserve those values, customs, and traditions, of our own local community cultures that we value, within the context of the declining empire, we must conceded that having the intelligence to understand the meanings of words, and to apply those words, accurately, is important. As soon as you give up the meaning of words, and instead to choose to accept the “general understanding” of what the establishment wants those words to mean, within the “current lexicon,” you give yourself up to being roped in and controlled by The Narrative.

As I pointed out in Forging the Hero, that “prattling social activist intellectual of the worst sort,” Noam Chomsky, has admitted, “…the intellectuals are specialists in defamation, they are basically political commisars, they are the ideological administrators, the most threatened by dissidence.” Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980), one of the leading voices of Marxist philosophy in the 20th century, called intellectuals, “the moral conscience of their age.

The social function of the intellectual, in Marxist philosophy, is to be the source of progressive ideals for the transformation of society, and to interpret the country’s politics for the proletariat, as well as to provide guidance and advice to the political leadership of the Party. (Now, go back, and re-read that sentence…a couple times…and think about the connections in modern society, between academia, the media, and the political caste on both sides of the false dialectic…) In Plato’s Republic, the intelligentsia forms the nucleus of the leadership caste of the ideal society. This has become our common understanding of the role of the intellectual, and this has shaped our collective distrust of—and disgust with—intellectualism.

The problem with his distrust of intellect is when it results in a backlash of anti-intellectualism. Anti-intellectualism is recognized as a hostility towards the intellect, as well as a distrust of intellectuals. It is expressed in the derision of education, philosophy, literature, and the sciences, as being impractical in the real world, and thus contemptible. This anti-intellectualism occurs on both sides of the modern Hegelian dialectic of western politics. We see the collectivists on the Left who want to tear down any markers of Western cultural ideology, including statuary and iconic landmark buildings that have long been considered architectural wonders of the world. We see them lose their minds over the “inherent racism” and “hetero-normative bias” of classical literature and art and music of the West.

On the same hand however, we see the Right refuse to even consider that something new or different may have equal value, or—gods forbid—greater relevance to anyone. “Aww, shit. Them people ain’t never managed to create nothing more lasting than a brush hut! What have them sonsuvbitches got to offer?” Ignoring the fact that the “primitive” culture in question may have survived, largely unchanged, for 2000 years. The Right looks at the material products of a culture, and sees anything else as irrelevant, even as they struggle to discover a way to “maintain cultural identity!”

Well-respected conservative political philosopher, Dr. Thomas Sowell—who is, by any objective metric, the definition of an intellectual—makes the case in his 2009 book, Intellectuals and Society,
that the rise of anti-intellectualism in the modern world is a justifiable result of malfeasance within the educational system:

By encouraging, or even requiring, students to take stands where they have neither the knowledge nor the intellectual training to seriously examine complex issues, teachers promote the expression of unsubstantiated opinions, the venting of uninformed emotions, and the habit of acting on those opinions and emotions, while ignoring or dismissing opposing views, without having either the intellectual equipment or the personal equipment to weigh one view against another in any serious way.

It is important—absolutely critical, in fact—to point out that Dr. Sowell is critical not of the use of the intellect itself, but of the misplaced emphasis on unreasoned thought. In fact, this is a call for a more disciplined intellectual rigor, requiring both the tools of critical thinking, and the empiricism of life experience, for decision-making about where an individual stands in regard to complex issues. This is critical, because it is precisely what distinguishes intelligence from intellectualism, at a practical and practicable level.

Anti-intellectualism has a well-deserved bad reputation precisely because of its prevalence within totalitarianism. Action is critical, but blind adherence to action, untempered by reason and good judgement, ends in poor results for pretty much everyone involved in the long-term.

While intellectualism is not—nor should it ever be considered—the final arbiter of Truth, as it relates to human nature, there is a great deal of observableTruth to be found in the scientific method and the pursuit of intellectual rigor represented therein. In order for there to be a benefit from the study of human experience, there has to be a balance between the intellectual and the experiential learning models.

The illustration of this that I used in Forging the Hero seems increasingly appropriate:

The academic who has never tasted the copper-mouthed sensation of life-or-death fear, as he watches muzzle flashes downrange, or has never watched the blood pouring out of someone that he knows and loves, lacks the requisite real-life experience to genuinely understand, at a human, visceral level, the warrior past of our collective heritage.

On the opposite side of the coin however, the warrior—no matter how well-blooded in battle—without an intellectual understanding of the human past, can never really understand the strategic and social implications of the combat in which he took part. He is forced to accept the explanations of his leaders, never completely certain if he is being fed a ration of bullshit. The balance must be sought between intellect and instinct.

A Call to Action? To What Action?

What then, does all of this prattling have to do with the Ellis-Davidson quote that opened this article?

The mythology of a people is far more than a collection of pretty or terrifying fables to be retold in carefully bowdlerized form to our schoolchildren. It is the comment of the men of one particular age or civilization on the mysteries of human existence and the human mind, their model for social behavior, and their attempt to define, in stories of gods and demons, their perceptions of inner realities.

In a word, “everything.” We see people on both sides of the political extremes beginning to take violent action in support of their definitions of “American values.” I watch social media, as they call for “like-minded people” to stand up and take action in support of their action. I see people respond, blindly, to these calls for action, without ever even considering, “Do I even share these people’s beliefs?

Oxford defines “myth” as: “A traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events.”

Mythology, in turn, is defined as: “A collection of myths, especially one belonging to a particular religious or cultural tradition.”

It is important, before we go further, to understand that nothing in those definitions refers to the “truth” or “accuracy,” or even the “reason and logic” of those tales.

We have a national mythology in the United States. It is the one most of us grew up with in school, church, and bedtime stories. We also have various cultural mythologies within the population of the United States. Those mythologies that you believe in, and have internalized, are what will define—for you—what defines “Western culture.” They may or may not be the same as my definition of “Western culture.” Evidenced by a lot of the shit coming across my social media feeds, the definition of “Western culture”held by most on the Right and the Left are dramatically different from my definitions of “Western culture.”

The only call to action you should be responding to—or, really, even paying attention to—are those that are in accordance with your cultural values, and the core mythologies that you believe in. If that means you need to armor up and run down to the local riot and start beating on Leftists, that’s on you.

For me, that call to action includes reducing my clan’s dependence on external market supports that serve no useful purpose for my clan. These actions have—in recent months (thus explaining, in large part, my absence from any writing efforts on the MG blog) included—convincing most of the clan to start at least small backyard vegetable gardens, change their dietary habits to a more ancestral diet model, increase their physical fitness training, increase their personal protection training, and thinking—and speaking—more openly, about the obligations of frith that tie our clan together, and were recognized previously, but seldom spoken of aloud.

That call to action has including no longer reading bedtime stories to my children, instead choosing to recite bedtime stories off-the-cuff. I have found that this forces me to inject the stories with more elements of belief that are specific to our cultural values.

That call to action has included attempts to spend less time alone on the farm, and more time convincing the clan to come spend time at the farm, and to spend more time with them at their homes. It has included initiating MORE holiday gatherings than we already participated in, that have existed as long as the clan has existed.

That call to action has included making a more concerted effort to look for solutions to needs within the commerce of the clan, rather than running to town and spending money on material goods, sending my money who knows where, to support who knows what. If I have to spend money on something, I would rather put that money in my kinsman’s pocket, where it will eventually get spent on something ELSE that supports my clan, than in the pocket of some complete stranger, whose values I not only don’t share, but don’t even know.

That call to action has included dropping whatever I am engaged in at the moment, to get in my truck and drive to wherever someone in my clan has called me from, asking for help. This has ranged from helping to move a refrigerator, to towing a truck, to helping a member of the clan’s parents move house.

This call to action has included spending a little more money, for the same item, in order to buy it from a small, local store, owned by a member of my community, instead of driving two hours to the city, and buying it from a big box retailer, for a lesser price, from some impersonal corporate drone.

The call to action that all of us should be heeding is not the call to violence (except when necessary to the survival of the clan or community), but the call to make our communities more resilient, by strengthening the bonds of frith that tie those communities together.

Skull-Stomping Sacred Cows: Reality Isn’t Nice. It’s a 2×4 to the Teeth.


Sam Culper posted a comment on FB recently, in light of the protests-turned-riots in Berkeley, and elsewhere, asking, “What happens when the black bloc (“anarchists”) get AR’s?” A legit question, all things considered, and one deserving of serious consideration, which we’ll get to in a moment. The problem that arose, which I, in turn, confronted in a FB post on the MG FB page, was that the responses to Sam’s questions were retarded. Seriously. The comments read like the locker room bragging of a bunch of 13 year olds, after PE class, about the hot dates they’d had last Friday night.

Seriously….these ranged from “Open season on liberals!” type macho posturing, to “they’re just a bunch of cowards who can’t do shit in a stand-up fight!”

Here’s the reality. I am going to share my response to the commentary, from Facebook, then I’m going to discuss some harsh truths that are the 900-pound guerrilla in the room (see what I did there?).

(The below has been edited from FB to make it more legible.)


So, I saw this come across my FB feed today, from Sam. I’m going to address it, because there’s a whole bunch of fucking stupid in the comments. Since I’m reasonably certain some of those commenters are also subscribers here, it will probably be wasted effort, but I’m willing to give it a shot….


Comment on Sam’s page: ‘Battlefield pickup: Plan for it. Make sure your people know how to clear them, get them into duffle bags, and into your supply channels to be re-issued as necessary. You may keep ammo as needed to replace expenditures, but the rest goes to the S4 for caching and resupply.

My response: While technically about the closest thing to a legitimate response I saw, this is ridiculously optimistic. In all of the classes I’ve taught, over the last half-decade plus of teaching through the MG blog,including the auxiliary and support classes, nobody—NOBODY—has even come close to having anything near an organizational footprint that this answer would matter too…except the Left.

Comment on Sam’s page: ‘This is what I have been chatting with some friends about for a few months. Particularly the myopic ones who don’t understand that the hapless morons will eventually be armed and given some level of training to escalate their own surge. Arming these ppl is not the next move, but it’s not far off.

My response: Dunning-Kruger much? “Hapless morons?” These “hapless morons” are off their fucking couches, engaging in the physical violence that the Right yammered about for the last eight years, without doing fuck all. I’m not condoning it, and certainly not supporting it, but intellectual dishonesty about skill at organization, and willingness to engage in violent direct-action is going to get a whole fuckton of “prepared militias” killed dead…and there ain’t no fucking restart to this game.

Comment on Sam’s page: ‘They maybe (sic) psychologically conditioning the left for kinetic operations, but it takes years to build capability and capacity. They maybe (sic) ten years out if they started today.‘\

My response: Bullshit. They could go hardcore tomorrow, and be effective, at least for some time. They’ve got organizational infrastructure in place. They’ve got leadership cadre and numbers. They’ve got the will to get violent, right now. What they don’t have is their puppet masters handing them guns and ammo…yet. Sam’s right. It’s an ugly potential that is probably not far off. Ten years? You’re fucking dreaming.

Comment on Sam’s page: ‘The left gas lighted themselves into destroying their gun culture. Where are the black block gun blogs? Training videos? PT videos? Discussion about Intelligence capability? The design of OPSEC programs? How to effectively use Command and Control for tactical, operational and Strategic success? Fuck blogs even where are their white papers? There are none.

My response: Again, see my comment above about Dunning-Kruger. Intellectual study is important, but getting out from in front of the computer, and getting out and DOING counts for more, and the other side IS DOING.

Comment on Sam’s page: ‘A blood bath.

My response:Yep. Because only one side has consistently displayed a willingness to get violent, right now, right here, despite the blatherings of the Right about ‘Molon Labe!’ and ‘From My Cold Dead Fingers,” etc….Talk is cheap. It will be a number of blood baths, but 99% of the victims are NOT going to be the Leftist pseudo-Anarchists that are willing to fuck shit up, already, without quality weapons at their disposal.

Comment on Sam’s page: ‘We get to slaughter them wholesale! YeeeeHaw!

My response: (parenthetical note to point out, I specifically referenced LaVoy Finicum in this response because the dumb motherfucker who posted the above comment had Finicum’s cattle brand as his profile picture. I’ll address the stupidity of the “Let’s Be a Martyr” mindset of Finicum below, this really wasn’t the attack on Finicum that some readers assumed it to be. This was a comment about a dumb motherfucker saying dumb shit.) Ah yes, the redneck, LaVoy Finicum response. How many people you slaughtered tough guy? Nobody? Then, you’re full of shit.

Comment on Sam’s page: ‘Are we talking about the Black Bloc types? I can see them going with drive by attacks because they seem to attack in groups and then run away. Don’t expect a standup fight.

My response: So, they’re smarter than you? Because, I can tell you what…fair fights? “Standup fights?” are a sucker’s bet. I decide to go hunting bad people, I’m going to be rolling up to their back door at 0430, while they’re sound asleep, and lighting their house on fire, while they’re still asleep inside. I’m only gonna stick around long enough to make sure nobody gets out before the house the engulfed. I’m into winning, not playing macho games.

Look, I get it. It’s fun to poke fun at the opposition. It’s easy to make jokes about ‘safe spaces,’ etc. Those dudes smoking people in the head with bricks? Those people staring down the riot cops, and taking bean bag rounds to the face and chest, to get a chance to lob a brick or a Molotov Cocktail at them? They’re not scared of you and they’re not looking for a fucking safe space. They’re willing to stand by their convictions, right or wrong.

That doesn’t make them good guys, by any stretch. It does make them far more qualified for the change in velocity of the collapse that we’re witnessing. People have been talking smack since election night, about how now, the Left was going to go away, because POTUS wasn’t going to put up with their shenanigans. Well, he may not, but it’s going to take a lot more to stop them than people are ready to understand. I’m not even saying that won’t happen, but if you’re sitting here, talking shit on your computer, instead of DOING shit, and TRAINING, and PRACTICING for how you’re going to REALISTICALLY respond to this shit, when it shows up in your neighborhood? You’re full of shit.



That was my Facebook response. Here, as ol’ Paul Harvey liked to say, “is the rest of the story.”



A whole lot of ‘ardent patriots’ and ‘expert preppers/survivalists,’ breathed a giant sigh of relief on the morning of WED 9NOV16. They woke up to the news that “R” had one, both the White House and a majority of Congress. All was saved from immediate damnation, and since everything was cool now, they could get on with not worrying about the future anymore. Big D got this, right?

There is a huge problem with normalcy bias in this country—a subject I’ve written about a lot on this blog, in the past. As long as “our guys” have control in DC, all is fine, right? Well, just like this last presidential cycle demonstrated that people on the Right were no longer content with the Beltway status quo, it should have demonstrated that people on the Left were no longer content with the Beltway status quo as well. The DNC pissed all over their own party, broke their own rules, and then basically, told the voters to “go fuck yourselves if you don’t like it,” in order to get their gal the nod to run. People on the Left are not fucking happy, and just like people on the Right swore they would contest the election results, and be ready to take up arms if Hillary Clinton got the White House, people on the Left are ready to take up arms, since there is a dude with an R behind his name sitting their instead.

It’s not that they wanted HRC—although, I know for a fact, some of them did—it’s that they didn’t want a person with an R behind their name in there. Donald Trump getting the White House was, to the modern day Left in this country, the exact same as Abraham Lincoln getting the White House in 1860 was to the Southern States. We are, make no mistake, in a Civil War. Fort Sumter is past, folks. Seriously. Wake the fuck up already.

Now, before I’m accused of being melodramatic, or hysterical, slow the fuck down for a second. There are some pretty serious differences that DO have to be taken into account, when we look at this.

#1) The people of Dixie weren’t stupid, and neither was their leadership. They didn’t run right out and start attacking the Army of the United States. They took a defensive role, and said, basically, “Hey, leave us alone, and all is well.” They didn’t want a fight. The Left today isn’t content with that, for a variety of reasons. They DO want a fight, and they’re not taking a defensive role. They are already attacking their enemies. They’re just not doing it with guns…yet….much.

#2) The Confederate States of America was the disgruntled party in the last go-round, and they were the more “libertarian/anarchist” of the belligerent parties. In this go-round, the roles have reversed; the “disgruntled party” is the statist party that wants to control everything, in accordance with their world view.

#3) While not technically accurate, Fort Sumter was the first “official” battle of the War of Northern Aggression. It was the real opening of hostilities between the uniformed services of two distinct, autonomous governments. In the current conflict, the legitimate government of the United States is, at most, a bit player, thus far. The War of Northern Aggression, while labeled a civil war, was not. It was a conflict of conquest by a sovereign state, against a sovereign state, that had declared its independence, and been recognized as a sovereign state, in accordance with international law. None of that mattered of course, but the difference with the current conflict should be obvious.

This is an actual civil war, as in a conflict between ideologically-opposed factions within the civilian and political population of a country. Like real civil wars, it is not going to be pretty. It’s not going to be armies, in pretty uniforms, fighting pitched, conventional battles. It’s going to be a matter of assassination, sabotage, hit-and-run raids, targeting ideological leadership figures, enemy families, etc.

As Matt Bracken pointed out in a recent Facebook post himself, we’re looking at more of a Balkans and/or Argentine “Dirty War” conflict. People just haven’t accepted that, because it doesn’t fit their mental images of what “war,” even “guerrilla war” looks like. That, in turn, is because, even the most devout conversions to the “Church of the Anti-Media” in this country today, have a lifetime of conditioning to the media’s portrayal of what “reality” is. From what a “proper” war looks like, to what “collapse” looks like, to what “bad guys” look like.


We commonly jump to the idea of “well, George Soros is funding this shit, so it’ll cause a breakdown, and currency collapse, and he can make a fortune off it.” There’s probably a lot of truth to that. I don’t know Soros, so I can’t tell you what his ultimate goals and motivations are. I have however, met a lot of Leftists, both in the US and elsewhere, and I can tell you, they are not looking for a currency collapse, in order to get richer.

It’s easy to sit in your lounger, with your laptop across your knees, and pontificate on the false motivations of the Leftist activists. “Oh, they’re just attention whores!” “Oh, they just want their safe spaces!” “Oh, they’re just useful idiots being played.” “Oh, they’ll quit as soon as the money stops.” There’s a very real problem with that though, and it’s called underestimating your enemy. If you don’t believe that a dude who is out, in wintertime, in a protest/riot, and eating some riot cops baton, as he receives a solid washing with “hickory shampoo,” is not a dedicated True Believer, you’re deluding yourself.

If you think that some twenty-something kid, who just saw his buddy take a bean bag round from a PD riot gun, in the dick, and then ignored his friend’s screams, to continue advancing, is not dedicated, and a True Believer, you’re fucking stupid.

If you think POTUS is going to magically save you? You’re dumb. Large urban areas and entire states are telling the federal government to go fuck itself on the immigration issue (and granted, the states are wrong on this one, but that doesn’t change the fact that this—as I mentioned, in detail, in Forging the Hero—is symptomatic of the collapse of the American Empire.) Things are not normal, and if you’re still stuck in your normalcy bias about “Make America Great Again,” you’re WAY behind the learning the curve.

I’ve talked with a number of friends in recent days; police officers and public services personnel, in large urban areas, across the country. None of them are taking this shit lightly. A fireman friend, from a major urban enclave on the east coast, that has been the scene of a number of ethnic conflicts in the last year or two, posted the following on FB recently,
They are organized, they are violent. The cops aren’t shooting back because when some Tumblr shit biscuit doxxes them, their kids will be targets. Molon Labia and snowflake bluster isn’t cutting it anymore.
I’m a fucking fireman and have had body armor issued. That should say something very loudly and clearly

A cop friend told me, in private conversation, “Yeah, man. It’s serious. We know it can kick off at any moment. Sitting in your cruiser, at a stoplight; writing a citation, sitting at lunch. We just have to be ready to rock, all the time.”

Another cop friend, “Man, I’ve upped my off-duty EDC to three twenty-round mags for the Glock, and I keep eight loaded mags for the AR in the plate carrier behind my seat. It’s getting weird out there.

So, if THEY get it, why don’t you, Mr. Expert Prepper/Survivalist?


This is not about being a tough guy. This is not about the questionable PSYOP value of talking shit with social media memes about the opposition. This is about knowing, and understanding, the realities of the battlespace.

#1) Dirty civil wars are ‘tribal’ guerrilla wars. This was discussed in-depth in The Reluctant Partisan, Volume One: The Guerrilla. This is not about dudes in cute camouflage coveralls, running through the woods with Kalashnikovs. This is about people burning down their neighbors’ houses and businesses, to run them out of town, over ideological differences. Look at the Balkans in the early 1990s.

This is about a group from one side, murdering the entire family—Dad, Mom, Brother, and baby Sister—of their neighbors, over political differences.

There’s nothing pretty or heroic about it. It’s about pragmatism. It’s not about dying for anybody or anything. It’s about changing the dynamic of the battlespace, so none of your people die…or at least, as few as possible.

#2) Heroic gestures and martyrdom are dumb. LaVoy Finicum, bless his heart, may have had good intentions, but he was a fucking idiot if he thought he was accomplishing anything. If you fucking people would get outside of the echo chamber of your masturbation studio, you’d realize that. You think anybody in mainstream America—the undecided majority in the current conflict—remembers Finicum? Go up to some random stranger, in the supermarket and ask. I got good money that says, 99 out of 100 are going to say, “Who’s she?”

So, nobody, outside of his own side’s True Believers, even remembers his “heroic” gesture. There’s Strike One.

What changed, following the Malheur Malcontent Mishap? Anything? Nope. Not a single federal policy changed. He LITERALLY died for nothing. There’s Strike Two.

Despite the acquittals of the ring leaders in federal court, far more of the participants are still in jail, and the other still face trial in Nevada (as far as I know. Did it ever get dealt with down there? I quit giving a shit). At best, it is possible that his death swayed some of the jurors towards leniency, out of pity for the deceased. It didn’t help the majority of them though, that are still dealing with the effects of the case. I’d call that Strike Three, but perhaps I’m being too harsh, and that was a foul ball.

The point isn’t to besmirch the dead. The point is, it was pointless. If you want to survive; hell, if you even just want your team to win, and don’t care about survival, you have to focus on efforts that make a difference. Stand-up fights don’t make differences in this type of conflict, because the other side isn’t interested in them. Quit focusing on some macho, redneck John Wayne image of conflict, and focus on doing what works. Right now? That still means organizing, because, while it’s not “tacticool,” it’s way more important than running around in the goddamned woods in cammie jammies. That means, instead of worrying about running raids and ambushes, you should be focused on gathering intelligence information about the opposition’s leadership cadres in your local area, so you can set about changing their mindset, by focusing your PSYOP activities on a specific target audience (them). It means training with your EDC concealed carry weapon, to protect yourself. And yes—you knew it was gonna get slipped in somewhere—it means doing your PT and combatives training, so you at least have a chance of fighting your way to an escape route when you get caught in the middle of a protest-turned-riot, and then getting away, instead of getting knocked the fuck out, so you have to be rescued by the local riot police.


The Right—especially the preparedness/survivalist/III/Threeper/Militia segment of the Right—is full of tough talk from self-professed badasses about how they’re gonna “slaughter” the other side when “open season on Leftists” is declared. It’s all a bunch of bullshit, written for an audience of people they don’t even know, but need to feel big in front of, for whatever reason.

Let me tell you a couple of trade secrets:

#1) I can train a fucking monkey to run an AR or an AK in three days. Give me ten days, and I can bring a complete novice to a near-expert level of proficiency with the gun. That’s fucking easy. The hard part? Convincing somebody to actually use it. Convincing someone that they actually need to overcome the culturally conditioned aversion to interpersonal violence that Americans have been spoonfed for the last sixty years, is far more challenging than teaching someone the mechanics of gunfighting. Guess which side has already overcome that cultural conditioning? I’ll give you two hints: first, it’s not the guys typing away on FB about how they’re gonna “slaughter” Leftists, as soon as they get permission from their Mommy. Second, it’s the people that are already cracking complete strangers in the head with bricks, then putting the boots to the unconscious victims, before throwing a Molotov Cocktail through their car window.

#2) The Left has won far more dirty civil wars and insurgent conflicts than the Right has won. There are a host of reasons for this, but most notable is the aversion, on the Right, to give up the security of law-and-order. As long as there is a politician telling them, “Now, now, let’s all keep calm. Let the authorities sort this out,” the Right is content to sit at home and bitch about those juvenile delinquents. The Left? They’re all, “FUCK THE MAN! LET’S MAKE IT BURN!” As long as there is a police officer in uniform…even if he is, like so many are currently, telling people, “Hey, we’re probably gonna be busy with other catastrophes when your personal catastrophe happens, so you’re on your own….” as long as he is on the job, the Right is going to say, “Meh, we’ll let the police do their job.” The Left? They’re going, “FUCK THE MAN! KILL THE PIGS!”

#3) The government isn’t going to save you. The government isn’t going to save your neighborhood, your city, or your state. The government MAY try and save itself. Those piranhas in the Beltway, on both sides of the aisle? They don’t give two shits about Mayberry RFD, until Mayberry RFD isn’t paying it’s taxes anymore, and by then? It’ll be too late for Sheriff Andy, Deputy Barney, Aunt Bea, Opie, and all their friends and neighbors. You want to be saved, you’d better be looking around and building what SF once upon a time called “CIDG,” or “Civilian Irregular Defense Groups,” among your neighbors and friends and families….you know…your tribe: the people in your local community that share your values and traditions. There’s a couple of really good books available that tell you exactly how to go about selecting those people, and training them. Let me see if I can recall what they are, and where you can fucking buy them……


People are emailing me and asking, “John, what can we do?” “John, what should we be doing right now to get ready?” I see the same questions getting asked everywhere; Sam’s pages, Matt’s FB page, etc. Here’s the problem….


WE ALREADY FUCKING TOLD YOU WHAT YOU NEEDED TO DO!!!!!! WE’VE BEEN TELLING YOU FOR THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS!!! Hell, in Bracken’s case, he’s been telling you for over a fucking decade!

You want to know how a Dirty War is fought, even on defense? With pistols, in urban areas. Guess what? I know a dude teaching a Clandestine Carry Pistol class in a couple weeks, in Arizona! He’s doing a CQB class the following weekend! If you live in motherfucking Arizona….with the cartels running shit through your neighborhoods every…single…fucking…day….and you’re not already keyed in on this shit? You’re too fucking stupid to save. So, why is it that my wife is telling me that we’re gonna have to cancel these classes, because there’s not been enough people interested in taking them? Because nobody wants to face the ugly reality, that it’s already started. It’s easier to sit on your computer, order multicam gear off, and talk shit about “open season on libtards!” than it is to face the task of somebody maybe telling you that you don’t know what the fuck you’re doing, after all, by bucking up and taking a class on shit that is actually relevant to you.

Don’t want to take my class, because I’m an obnoxious, foul-mouthed prick that calls a spade a spade? There’s a host of classes available from qualified dudes who are far nicer than me (not really. Anyone who has taken a class with me will tell you, I’m actually Prince Charming…in my own inimitable way…)

That’s okay. I get it. Classes are expensive, and might be embarrassing. I mean, not as embarrassing as getting anal raped with your own EDC gun, by the dude that just killed you and took it from you, but, yeah, it could be embarrassing. So, there’s an alternative. I fucking wrote THREE goddamned books for you people. They are all how-to books. Two of them have the step-by-step curriculum, and the techniques and drills that make up those curricula, to train with somebody you know, that already has a background in the skills. I’ve written seven or eight books worth of free information on this blog, over the last six-plus years, explaining what you needed to be, know, and do, to be ready. When you ask, in public, “gee, golly. What should I be training in for this?” it tells me, you haven’t done your fucking homework. You’re just reading shit on the Internet forums and Facebook, and imagining yourself as Sergeant Fucking York.


So, here’s my actionable steps for readers (who haven’t yet) to take, to play catch up, and start getting ready for the festivities to come to their ‘hood:

  1. Enroll in a fucking legit concealed carry-centric gunfighting course.
  2. Get some advanced trauma medical care training.
  3. READ THE FUCKING BOOKS! Yeah, they’re expensive. As someone pointed out, not long ago, they’re a fucking post-grad course in “how to be The Most Dangerous Man You Know.”

Yes, I just pimped my own classes and books. Get over it. They’re that important, and that valuable.


Upcoming Classes

As promised, we have some classes coming up.

Phoenix, AZ
Clandestine Carry Pistol  10-12 MAR 17 (this is Fri-Sun)
This class focuses on fundamental skills development for the concealed carry pistol in non-permissive environments. Focus is on basic weapons handling in the combative environment, precision marksmanship, speed of execution, and decision-making drills with heavy cognitive task loading. Cost of the class is $600/shooter. Cost is higher than normal, to cover range fees.

Close-Quarters Battle/Fighting In and Around Structures  17-19MAR17 (this is Fri-Sun)

This class focuses on “limited penetration” tactics, techniques, and procedures for individual and two-man clearing teams, using sidearms or carbines. These classes are taking place on a developed range facility, with an engineered shoot house. Because of the requirements for special purpose ammunition in the shoothouse, the cost of this course is higher, to cover range fees, and the cost of the ammunition. For this class, regardless of your personal preferences or carry weapon, the FoF/shoothouse portions must be run with a Glock handgun and/or AR carbine (that’s what we have Sims guns available for).Tuition for this class is $600.

Tuition for either, or both of these classes, is due in full, no later than 17FEB17. For full details, or to enroll, contact HH6 at

Idaho Falls, ID

Combat Rifle Applications 28-30APR17 (this is Fri-Sun)

This course focuses on training drills to apply the fundamental techniques of rifle handling to the combative application. It specifically focuses on skill-building exercises that combine marksmanship/precision and speed of execution, with heavy cognitive loads and decision-making drills. This is an intermediate-to-advanced level course, although we have had relatively novice shooters attend and perform well. It does require at least familiarity with your rifle’s manual-of-arms and the basic shooting positions.

Tuition for this course is $500. Deposits are due no later than 17APR17. For full details, or to enroll, contact HH6 at

Klamath Falls, OR

Clandestine Carry Pistol  5-7MAY17 (this is Fri-Sun)

This class focuses on fundamental skills development for the concealed carry pistol in non-permissive environments. Focus is on basic weapons handling in the combative environment, precision marksmanship, speed of execution, and decision-making drills with heavy cognitive task loading.

Tuition for this course is $500/shooter. Deposits are due no later than 17APR17. For full details, or to enroll, contact HH6 at

(I hope, sincerely, that everyone had a happy holiday season, whether they celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, the Winter Solstice, or Yule. We’ve been exceedingly busy, working, taking care of the farm, and spending time with kith and kin. Among my New Year’s Resolutions, discussed in depth with HH6, is my commitment to writing more, and getting classes lined up and taught. More on that in a moment though…

It has come to my attention that a whole lot of people apparently view President-Elect Trump as damned near the Messiah, come again. As a result of this, much like in 2000, with the election of George W. Bush to the Presidency, large numbers of people who were preparing for the “Coming Collapse” decided suddenly that all was hunky-dory again, and went back to whatever they were doing, giving up on being prepared for emergencies in general, and the continued decline of imperial grandeur specifically.

While I willingly concede that pretty much anyone, including a half-trained ape, would have made a more desirable POTUS than Hillary Clinton, I do not now, nor have I ever, believed Donald Trump is going to actually change much of anything, for anyone in the US. Will there be some positive changes in some areas? Sure, it’s a given. As anyone who has read Forging the Hero can tell you, however, I can point to historical patterns and trends that pretty conclusively tell us, “shit just ain’t right,” and it isn’t going to get better in the long run. The root causes of our problems are still present (and if the choice of THREE career Goldman Sachs bankers to cabinet positions doesn’t tell you that, I hope you have someone nearby trained in CPR, to clear your airway, after they pull your head out of the sand).

Nevertheless, I suspect we, like much of the Preparedness and Shooting blogosphere, will lose a large percentage of casual readers, despite the fervent cries of the last decade about “being prepared for anything!” That is fine. If you believe Trump as POTUS is going to fix things, I bid you good luck, and genuinely, wish you the best.

For those readers with enough sense to recognize that, even if some things seem a little better, for a little while…I have talked about trying to make changes to the blog on a number of occasions, and have generally fallen short, due to mitigating circumstances, outside of my control (and as MANY, MANY students will gleefully inform you, I am a wholehearted believer in “control what you can control, and don’t sweat the rest”).

Our (myself and HH6) combined resolution is to allow me to commit more time to this, on the side of everything else we have going on. Some readers will have noticed that, in addition to writing for this blog, and Forward Observer, I have begun writing articles for I  am committed to an article a week (ish) for them. Sam and I have discussed moving my focus on articles for FO away from hard skills (shooting, etc) to more of the soft skills, along the lines of community-building, etc. Since I am actually getting paid by PGO (:-) ) this actually works out well. Hard skills articles will be posted there. Community Building skill articles will be at FO. This blog will continue to have a little of both, but will probably tend to focus more on the barbarian antecedents and the historical precursors and patterns we are living through, as well as a trend towards some of the non-gunfight related hard skills that are necessary for the Mountain Guerrilla to survive and thrive, that we are putting into practice ourself, such as raising food, teaching neighbors, building, small-scale, affordable off-grid power systems, etc.

We have also committed to doing more classes this year than last, since we really didn’t do very many, due to local obligations. I have at least one private coming up in February. We are working on scheduling a couple in Arizona in March, and in Idaho in April or May. If you have interest in hosting a class elsewhere, in summer or autumn, private or open-enrollment, please contact HH6 at as soon as possible.

In the meantime…as I sit down to start putting this new course-of-action into play…after my last article repost, one of the criticism I received was that I didn’t say much about HOW to develop a set of standards to strive for and adhere to, because most people don’t have any idea on what the standards should be. In light of that, very justified criticism, I decided to repost this article, describing what I have genuinely come to believe is the safest, sanest approach to developing training standards for anyone who does not have a professional obligation to meet a published performance metric.

Valkyries, Valhalla, and the Way of the Samurai (Originally published 17APR15)

Contrary to popular current mythology, and the History Channel’s Vikings television show, dying in battle was not a ticket to sex with Valkyries, getting drunk on mead, and partying with Odin in Valhalla, in pre-Christian Germanic belief. The most commonly accepted view of the mythos—amongst those scholars that accept that the belief system actually encompassed Valhalla as an afterlife destination, which is far from universal amongst historians and archeologists—is that the Valkyries, the “Choosers of the Slain,” would scour the battlefield dead, and select half of them to bring to Odin’s Hall. The other half went elsewhere (Freyja’s Hall, but that’s not actually germane to the conversation here).

Thus, in the ancient Germanic warrior culture, regardless of how brave you were, how hard you fought, and how well-trained you were, there was only a 50/50 chance that you would get to go to Valhalla. Ultimately, the choice was outside of your control. So, why would a warrior train for war, venture forth gladly to the battlefield, and then perform valorous acts that almost guaranteed death in the long run, if there was only a 50% chance of getting what you wanted?

In his classic treatise on the philosophy behind the Samurai code of “Bushido,” entitled Hagakure, and often billed as “The Book of the Samurai,” retired Samurai-turned-monk Yamamoto Tsunetomo, wrote that “the way of the samurai is found in death.” He admonished young warriors to calmly accept that death would occur on the battlefield, regardless of the efforts of the individual. Despite this, the samurai trained in earnest for battlefield effectiveness from youth onward. It didn’t matter that you calmly accepted that you were going to die, you still trained hard to be as lethal as humanly possible.

There is a school of philosophy that was originated in ancient Greece, and codified by Roman philosophers like Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, and Seneca. That school was called “Stoicism.” It was probably not what you think.

In modern colloquialism, “stoic” has a meaning that is not congruent with the origins of the word within that school of philosophy. In our use, stoic is defined as enduring pain or hardship without showing emotions or complaining. When we read the ancient philosophers like Aurelius though, we see that he—by many considered the definitive writer of the school of Stoicism—greatly mourned the deaths of his sons. He grew angry with poor performance by his subordinate military commanders. Bereavement and anger are contrary to the modern use of the word stoic, but the greatest writer on the school of philosophy that gave us that word was more than willing to admit that he felt both emotions. How does that work?

More importantly, what do northern European tribal warriors, Japanese samurai, and ancient Roman philosophers, have to do with modern survivalism, preparedness, and training? Pretty much every-fucking-thing.

Whether we use the Roman term “stoicism,” or we discuss Germanic warlords, or Japanese samurai, we’re talking about the same thing. Stoicism is the calm acceptance of responsibility. It is the acceptance that I am responsible for what I am capable of controlling. I cannot control what anyone else does or does not do. I cannot control the outcome of events, after I’ve done the work.

Retired Delta Sergeant-Major Pat McNamara writes about this when he recommends performance-based training, rather than outcome-based training. We don’t worry about the outcome. We focus our efforts on what we are responsible for. It doesn’t matter if I hit a Master classification on the IDPA Classifier. What matters is whether I take responsibility for the actions—the training—that will allow me to achieve that. It doesn’t matter if I hit a sub-1:00 second draw to first shot break with my Glock. I cannot control that.

Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it?

It makes sense though, when you stop trying to control anything except yourself. Rather than trying to hit a 1:00 second draw to first shot, focus on executing the draw, sight alignment, and trigger press as fast as you are capable of, while still performing each step of the process as correctly as you are capable of. If you get a 1:00 second draw to first shot, great. If you don’t, but you did everything as fast as you were capable of, but still did it as perfect as you are capable of, great.

When the bell tolls for you, and you are in a gunfight, you have exactly zero control of the outcome. You have zero control over who you will be fighting. You have zero control over what training he has had. You have zero control over his speed and accuracy. You have zero control over whether he moves at the moment you break your shot, causing you to miss. You are not in control over anything that you are not in control of. Accept it. Embrace it. Accept responsibility for what you are responsible for.

So, what are you responsible for, that will make a difference? Why bother training, if we don’t have control anyway?

You are responsible for you. You are responsible for your actions. You do have control over who your enemy will be fighting. You have control over the training you will have had. You have control over what speed and accuracy you will be able to achieve. You have control over whether you are fit enough to move, fast enough. You are in control of everything that you are in control of. Accept that responsibility.

The Germanic warrior trained hard, to be better than his foe, so that he could perform valorous acts on the battlefield, and hoped that the Valkyries noticed, and took him, if it turned out that his foe was better than him. The Samurai trained hard so that he could perform well, so that hopefully, his ancestors would recognize his honor in the afterlife.

We can set performance standards. “You need to be able to achieve X in XX:XX seconds, and then you are qualified.” That’s fine. If you’re willing to accept that, then fine. Accept responsibility for it. Perhaps it will be enough.

The better way; the Stoic way accepted by warrior cultures throughout history, and throughout the world though, is to take responsibility for yourself. Accept that you have absolute control over what you have control over, and don’t worry about the rest of it. If you take the responsibility you need to take, then you will perform. If you don’t, you will fail.

You cannot control whether you achieve X in XX:XX. What you can control is, “I will do XYZ every day. I will try to perform better and faster, every time I perform XYZ. If I do this, eventually, I will achieve X in XX:XX, then I will continue to improve.”

“Hard” standards of performance are, by definition, minimal standards. “Soft” standards are superior to hard standards. They require stoic acceptance of the struggle. They require you to continue trying to improve. “Hard” standards are about “stay safe.” “Soft” standards are about “fuck safe, stay dangerous.”

I taught a TC3 class in Idaho this weekend past. After the training one night, at supper with some of the students, we were discussing PT. You can follow any number of PT programs out there. I describe a program in Volume One of The Reluctant Partisan. Rob Shaul of Mountain Athlete, located in Jackson, Wyoming has “tactical athlete” specific training programs. Gym Jones in Salt Lake City, UT provides training for tactical athletes. Crossfit is—of course—popular with many tactical athletes.

Ultimately, if you want to do PT to improve yourself, it’s not particularly difficult. Lift more today than you lifted yesterday, and lift more tomorrow than you can lift today. Run or ruck further and faster today than you did yesterday, and run or ruck further and faster tomorrow than you do today. Any strength and conditioning specialist or personal trainer will, of course, tell you that this is a gross oversimplification. You have to factor in all the variables: nutrition, rest and recovery, etc.

Bullshit. If you walked out in your front yard right now, and picked up a 45-lb Olympic barbell off the ground and pressed it all the way over your head, and did that five times, then repeated that—and nothing else—every single day, rain, shine, sleet, or snow, adding five pounds every day, in a month, you would be fitter than you are today. If you walk outside tomorrow, and you walk two miles, as fast as you can walk that two miles, and tomorrow, you repeated it, but threw ten pounds into a backpack while you did it, and repeated that every day for a month; you would be fitter—faster and stronger—than you are today.

People bitch and whine all the time in the comments on this blog about my exhortations to do PT, shoot, and train. “It’s too hard!” “I’m too crippled.” “I’m too old.” “It’s cold outside.” “It’s too hot.”

That’s fine. Blame it on the environment. I don’t give a shit.

You can’t control whether it will be hard or easy. You cannot control your past injuries. You cannot control your age. You cannot control the weather. You can control your reactions to those things. If you choose to let them stop you, fine. Just accept responsibility for it. The difficulty of exercise and training, your old injuries, your age, the weather; none of those things are in your control. They cannot control you either. You, and you alone, are responsible for your actions. It’s not your age or the weather that’s stopping you from being dangerous. It’s being a whiny little bitch who wants to blame someone else for your failings that stops you from being dangerous.


Why We Suck, and How to Fix That

(originally published 17APR15)

The Foole doth thinke he is wise, but the wiseman knowes himselfe to be a Foole.” –William Shakespeare

In 1999, Cornell University Department of Psychology professor, David Dunning, and a graduate student, Justin Kruger, published a paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, that was titled, “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments.” The effect they described has subsequently come to be known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect. This Effect plays a vital role in the preparedness community, even though most people are completely unaware of its existence.

Incompetent people do not recognize—scratch that, cannot recognize—just how incompetent they are…” –David Dunning

There are numerous possible causes of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. The most obvious is simple ego. No one wants to think of himself as a complete fucking retard, or even simply as being below-average. Thus, we tend to inflate our own self-assessments. We also tend to be judgmental pricks, so it is easier to recognize ignorance and incompetence in someone else, reinforcing the illusion that we are above average.

As Dr. Dunning pointed out in an article last year, for Pacific-Standard, “We Are All Confident Idiots,” however, the core case of the Effect is simple damned ignorance. “An ignorant mind is precisely not a spotless, empty vessel, but one that is filled with the clutter of irrelevant or misleading life experiences, facts, intuitions, strategies, algorithms, heuristics, metaphors, and hunches that regrettably have the feel of useful and accurate knowledge.”

This false “knowledge,” predicated on irrelevant—or even simply misinterpreted—experience and education, leads to confirmation bias of the worst sort. We have “life experience” so we must know what the fuck we are talking about, right? We’re professionally educated, so we must “know,” right? Well…maybe…

The problem is, too often, if one or two experiences appear to confirm our beliefs, we then rest easy in our confident knowledge, and cease to continue pushing. We’ve done “XXX” so we don’t need to keep training and pushing ourselves. This is why we see “experts” in “XYZ” set of skills in the preparedness world, despite a complete lack of credible experience or education, and demonstrably false lessons being taught as “gospel,” even in the face of contradictory evidence. This is why we see guys in the training industry teaching the same TTP they learned twenty or thirty years ago, who have refused to adapt and modify their knowledge base, despite contradictory evidence from more recent, more widespread experience.

In “gun talk,” this is the “unconscious incompetence” level of learning. We just don’t know what we don’t know. We’re so ignorant, we cannot even recognize that we are ignorant.

Before someone jumps in with, “But, John, you’re an arrogant prick yourself! You’re always talking shit about our training!” You’re right. I am—in no way, shape, or form—immune to the Dunning-Kruger Effect. NO ONE IS IMMUNE! Even Dr. Dunning admits that he is not immune to it.

However, there are ways to overcome it, assuming we are not willing to rest on our laurels, and believe we somehow have all the answers, and do not need to continue seeking. One of these methods is learning accurate self-assessment. We need to develop the ability to clearly see—and actually appreciate—what we do not know.

One of these is the establishment of standards of performance. If I set the IDPA Classifier in front of you, as a standard metric for performance with a concealed-carry pistol, and tell you, “The standard is to classify ‘Master,’” then you have a standard metric to test yourself against. If you cannot achieve that (it’s actually not particularly difficult to achieve. I did it a few weeks ago, and was fishing for my spare magazine in a cargo pocket, instead of a belt-mounted mag pouch…). If I tell you, “The standard for rifles is to be able to hit a C-Zone steel silhouette, from the standing, at 100 meters, in less than 1.5 seconds,” then you have a quantifiable standard to attain.

This leaves no room for argument, or self-delusion. You can either achieve the standard, or you cannot. It’s all very black-and-white. This is nice, because as Americans, we tend to appreciate things that are black-and-white. Grays are too nebulous for our comfort.

The problem of the Dunning-Kruger Effect still rears its ugly head though, in the establishment of those standards. What defines an acceptable performance metric? Someone who served in Iraq, was never in a gunfight outside of one of the metropolitan areas of that country, and never saw the opportunity to make a shot on a bad guy, past 100 meters, may consider 100 meters to be an acceptable standard of performance. At the same time, there are a lot of papers coming out of the Army War College, with Afghanistan veteran officers, many with competitive marksmanship backgrounds as well, who are positing that anything less than everyone being able to shoot at 500 meters, is an unacceptably low standard.

Lots of trainers in the civilian world think that anything beyond 7-10 meters, with a carbine or pistol, is unrealistic for the civilian gun owner, training in the “home defense carbine.” The very establishment of standards of performance is just as fraught with the dangers of Dunning-Kruger Effect as not having standards is.

The same applies to physical training, combatives, land navigation, and more. We have to determine a base metric for “acceptable” levels of skill, but we need to recognize that even those may be inadequate.

The solution is critical thinking. We need to be able to apply logic and empiricism, correctly, and predicate our conclusions on humility (trust me, humility is NOT one of my virtues, I get it, this is HARD!). In short, we need to be skeptical, certainly of what someone else publishes, but mostly, of ourselves and our conclusions and abilities.

Accurate, objective self-assessment can be developed, but it requires work and humility. Instead of assuming that what we know is “Truth,” we can accept that it was “true” within a specific, limited context. Even then however, our “knowledge” and “expertise” may be grounded in false knowledge.

Using the example of the 100 meters standard in Iraq, we can see this is the case. There have been dozens of cases of shooters—and not just snipers, but common riflemen—making shots in excess of 500 meters, even in urban environments. The longest 7.62x51mm sniper shot ever, was taken at almost 1200 meters in an urban environment in Iraq. So, the “authority of experience” of someone who never even saw anyone take a shot past 100 meters there, and thus claims, “you don’t need to train for shots past 50/100/200/etc meters, in an urban environment,” is automatically suspect, isn’t it?

At the same time, the standard answer of “well, I can hit a silhouette at 500 meters, so I’m a ‘rifleman!’” is equally suspect, since a) 500 meters is considerably less than 1200 meters, and b) most fights still happen at considerably less than 500 meters, but at extremely fast speeds.

At a recent local training event, someone asked me how important the 3-5 second rush was, and if it would really hurt anything if they took a couple extra seconds getting to their next position. To answer them, we set the timer up. At 100 meters, from the standing, a couple of us managed to smoke a hit to a C-Zone steel silhouette, in less than one second. Would it have taken us longer if the target had been moving? Maybe. How much longer, though? Twice as long? Three times as long? Of course, I wouldn’t have to hit the C-Zone, either. Any hit on them would have at least slowed them down a step, allowing me a follow-up shot. So, maybe it would have taken the same amount of time—or even less—since we’d have been shooting at a larger target.

The 3-5 second rush was developed, because it was predicated on the idea that it would take some period of time for the enemy to notice you were moving, then they’d have to acquire a sight picture, before finally breaking the shot. Hopefully, by then, you would be back on the ground, behind cover, making their shot “wasted.”

So, what relevance does the Dunning-Kruger Effect have on our training for preparedness security operations?

Number One, assume that what you know is wrong, or at least, incomplete. Continue seeking new knowledge, and improving your frame-of-reference, by making it more broad.

At the same time, question the frame-of-reference of the people you’re getting your information from. Is their experience and knowledge base relevant to your needs? Do you have the support assets they have/had, when they developed their knowledge base? Do you need to modify their approach, based on these differences? Do you really, or is that your cognitive bias and/or laziness speaking?

Number Two, assume that whatever performance standard you develop will be a MINIMUM standard. You’re not the only guy out there trying to get better, and become more dangerous. Once you’ve achieved a MINIMUM standard, raise the bar of performance. DO NOT EVER SETTLE!

I’ll give you a couple examples from my personal recent experience.

I’ve long assumed I was moderately good with my carbine, and with my pistol. I mean, shit, I was an SOF soldier for the better part of a decade. I’ve been shot at, and I’ve shot people. Shit, I’m good to go. In the interest of not succumbing to Dunning-Kruger Effect and my own experiential cognitive biases however, I decided to set up some performance metrics to test myself and those with whom I train regularly. We decided to run some basic tests at the rifle range and at the pistol range.

For rifle, we looked at the 3-5 second rush. We operated off the assumption that anyone we would have to fight would a) NOT be a fucking idiot, and b) would be at least as well trained as the average US infantryman. For a minimum standard, we decided that, out to 200 meters, regardless of the firing position you needed to use, to get hits at the given range (we tested at 50, 75, 100, and 200 meters), you needed to be able—at a MINIMUM—to get a hit within 5 seconds. It didn’t matter if you were firing a single shot, or dumping half your magazine: as long as you got a hit within five seconds, we would score it a “go.”

Within two iterations, even our slowest people were scoring their hits in under three seconds. More than one were getting hits in less than two seconds, even at 200 meters. We lowered the time standard, and said, “Okay, you should be able to get a hit on steel in less than three seconds.” We didn’t settle for the easily achievable, even though that was our initial “standard.” Pretty soon, at any distance from 0-100 meters, EVERYONE was getting hits in less than two seconds. Several were scoring their first hit in less than 1.5 seconds, and three or four of us were getting hits in less than one second. Guess what?

The performance standard got lowered again. Now, we have a standard of “you need to be able to get a hit, from your rifle, on a C-Zone steel silhouette targets, in less than 1.0 seconds, at any distance from 0-100 meters.” For those that couldn’t do that yet, they have a measurable, quantifiable performance metric to try and achieve. For those that already managed it? They have a base standard to maintain, and we’ll be pushing to drop that standard below 0.75 seconds, and then 0.5 seconds, while simultaneously reducing the size of the acceptable target zone.

Obviously, that’s just one aspect of the performance standard for rifle, but it’s a challenging one. Hitting that single hit in less than one second also allowed us to get hits on two separate targets in less than two seconds, at 50 meters. How dangerous does that make you? How fast can the other guy get his weapon into the fight at 50 meters? What about his buddy? Is he training to the same “elite” standard, or is he accepting some “standard” he read on the Internet somewhere, developed twenty years ago, that says a single hit at 50 meters in two seconds, is adequate?

For pistols, we used a two-part qualification. We used the current FBI Qualification and the IDPA Classifier, both with modifications to make them more accuracy focused, while still insisting on the time standards. Here’s a newsflash for you: lots of people can pass the FBI Qualification, as written, and LOTS of people can achieve Master on the IDPA Classifier (seriously, if I can do it, ANYONE can do it!). If you’re not shooting AT LEAST, to that level, then you’re not trained, regardless of what you think.

PT is a deceased equine that I like to take a Louisville Slugger to, regularly. Is part of it that I enjoy doing PT? Sure. I like throwing heavy iron around. I like folding the heavy bag in half with punch after punch. More importantly though, I know there are guys out there who lift more than I do, and run faster than I do. There are guys out there who make my level of shooting ability look like a kid in 1992 playing Duck Hunter on Nintendo. I do PT—hard and heavy—because I need to level that playing field, as much as possible. If they can lift more than me, and/or run faster than me, then I need to be able to outshoot them. If they can outshoot me, I’d better be able to outrun them. If they are faster than me, stronger than me, and can shoot faster than me? Well, I’m fucked, but you can bet, I’m going to do my damnedest to keep trying to catch up and surpass them.

Nature doesn’t give a shit—and neither does the enemy—that I’m forty damned years old, have lots of obligations competing for my limited time, and struggle with being a lazy piece-of-shit. If I’m going to be able to protect my wife and kids, I HAVE to make time to meet the standards, and then to drive past though standards, and set tougher ones to achieve.

It doesn’t matter if I met the standards this week. All that matters is I’m better today than I was yesterday, and that I’ll be better tomorrow than I am today. Set your standards, and then blow those cocksuckers out of the water, by pushing past them.

Or, go be a pussy, but do that somewhere else.

A Reader Review of Forging The Hero


“The Barbarian Economist,” Jim Chappelow, sent me a review he wrote of Forging The Hero. He makes me sound smarter, more well-spoken, and better looking, than I actually am, but for what it is worth, here’s his review (my commentary is, as always, bold and italicized, in parentheses). –JM

Note: Jim provided a metric fuck ton of assistance in fact checking my notes on the economic issues. That having been said, there were some things I disagreed with him on, looking at it from a non-economist PoV, so any factual errors should still be assumed to be my own. Jim did not receive monetary recompense for his assistance with the books (I sent him copies of TRP1 &2 in gratitude, after the fact), or for this review.


Forging the Hero

By John Mosby

Warhammer Six Press, 2016, 202 pp.

Reviewed by Jim Chappelow

Reviewer’s disclosure: This reviewer assisted with some editing and fact-checking some of the economic content for sections of chapter 2 “An Inconvenient Whimper” and received autographed copies of The Reluctant Partisan vols. 1 & 2 in return for this assistance.

Bottom line up front: Despite a few minor flaws, Forging the Hero may be the most influential book I have read this year. If you have any interest in neo-tribalism, applied Germanic heathen practice, or prepping/survivalism and you have not read this book, then you are behind the times. Fix yourself.

Forging the Hero is the short, but information dense, culmination of Mosby’s Reluctant Partisan series, which places the author’s work squarely in the neo-tribalist movement. (It is actually intended to be separate from The Reluctant Partisan series, but he’s right, after a fashion, since so much of the information ties together in that “Non-Generational Warfare” motif. –JM)Weaving together the subjects of survivalism and Northern European heathen spirituality (Culture. I’m pretty sure I didn’t bring anything specifically spiritual into the book….–JM), Mosby brings a huge dose of pragmatic realism to both subjects while synthesizing them into a valuable new contribution and kicking a number of sacred cows along the way. Despite some noticeable issues regarding editing and structural emphasis of the evidence presented, Forging the Hero is likely the most important piece in either subject in some time. Overall, Mosby without a doubt succeeds in his exposition of his vision of the why and how of neo-tribalism as a survival strategy to survive and thrive amidst a declining empire. In addition to the successful presentation of his content, the author’s engaging style and witty off-the-cuff remarks keep the material interesting throughout.

The first seventy pages of the book are given over to Mosby’s case that the United States, as an imperial power, is a society in decline. One of the most refreshing elements of this book is found in this section; the author’s emphasis, even insistence, on realistic assessment and critical thinking skills as key to coming to grips with the (end of) the world around us. Relative to the conspiracy theories and chicken-little-ism of typical survivalist writings or the LARPing and esoterica of much of the alt spirituality literature, Mosby’s no-nonsense approach really makes Forging the Hero a book for rational, sensible people and not for wild-eyed nuts. Even better, his emphasis on critical thinking skills then becomes a recurrent theme throughout the book in his methodology, argumentation, and advice on tribe building.

Mosby lays out his introductory case primarily based on two typologies: Sir John Bagot Glubb’s ages of imperial rise and fall (particularly emphasizing Glubb’s indicators of the Age of Decadence, which mark the fall) and Dmitry Orlov’s five stages of collapse. In both cases, Mosby packs his text with historical illustrations from past empires now crumbled to dust and recent historical evidence from the United States, ranging from a detailed narrative of the 2008 financial crisis to Gallup survey data on American’s confidence in various social institutions (and, if you think President-Elect Trump and his cabinet choices are going to change the course of history, you REALLY need to read this book, if I do say so myself…–JM). Walking the reader through these two typologies over the first two chapters of the book, the author concludes that: 1) “The American Empire is dying.” (p.70), 2) the collapse will NOT be “some sort of conveniently sudden, immediately catastrophic, easily recognized event” (p.43), but rather a creeping, regionally varied, episodic degradation of American societal institutions over decades, and 3) the solution is neither “a futile struggle to hold on to that empire” (p.83), “vot[ing] your way out of it” (p.71), or “armed insurrection” (p.71), but rather 4) the establishment of self-sufficient “tight-knit community, with shared values, traditions, and customs” (p.72) “focusing on your own friends, family, and neighbors and their needs and desires” (p.69).

This section of the book showcases Mosby’s impressively wide and deep understanding of human history as he ranges from the Great Wall of China to 21st century Wall Street, from the Marian Reforms to the Counter-Reformation. This strength serves him well in building a convincing case, though it occasionally bogs the book down in overly pedantic accounts of the chosen historic examples. This in turn contributes to a generally rambling start to the book; rather than cramming in lots of marginally connected but detailed evidence, this part of the book could have been structured a little more carefully to concisely present pieces of evidence directly connected to specific arguments in a more linear fashion (in my defense, as those who have taken classes with me will gleefully, or ruefully, depending on their perspective, point out, my writing is really no more pedantic than my lecturing…–JM). It might also have presented a way to estimate more precisely where along the curve of collapse we are in The Current Year, particularly with respect to Orlov’s five stages since they are hypothesized to follow roughly in sequence. This initial rambling does not necessarily detract from his overall argument, though it may make it a little hard to get through for less patient or erudite readers as it constitutes nearly the entire first half of the book.

Mosby follows up with about a ten page digression into methodology and epistemology intended to justify the approach of the remainder of the book. “This is a book about philosophy and ideas, but it is about putting those ideas to work in a practical, functional way.” Here, the bottom line is balance; between academic and experiential learning and between various disciplines of learning about past human experience in periods of imperial decline. Mosby is a firm believer in Thucydides dictum “the society that separates its warriors from its scholars will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools” (it has, since publication, repeatedly been brought to my attention that this is, apparently, falsely attributed to Thucydides. –JM) This qualifies the author himself on the topic at hand, as both a widely read and well educated student of history and as a combat veteran with years of experience surviving in violent, Third World backwaters. It also qualifies his approach to the subsequent discussion of survival in a decaying empire as a blend of first hand experience, historical analogy, anthropological evidence of extant tribal cultures, and inspiration drawn from Northern European (and to some extent Christian) myth and legend.

At this point, Mosby introduces his major thesis for the second half of the book. “The solution to surviving the decline of empire is the embrace of our barbarian, tribal heritage” (p.84), “recognizing the existence of your tribes as a social construct that will allow your cultural values, customs, and traditions to survive the decline of the American Empire.” (p.85). He differentiates the tribe from both the cosmopolitan, corporate collective of the imperial state on the one hand and the atomistic individualism of mass consumer markets or “rugged individualist” fantasy on the other. Whether they take the form of organically evolved kith-and-kin groups or intentional communities (“sodalities”), Mosby’s tribes share some common, and according to the author universal, characteristics: mutual exclusivity, meritocracy, frith (and its corollary, honor), and orlog.

Mosby’s discussion of the Germanic heathen concepts of frith, honor, hamingja, and orlog is just excellent (as I point out in the book, when comparing these with the Pashtunwali, these are not strictly European concepts. They are universal human tribal concepts. I just chose to use the northern European/Germanic terminology, because, well, that’s where my ancestors came from…–JM). In particular, his treatment of these as practically applied principles that should (and must) define tribal living in a post imperial era is some of the best I have seen from any heathen author. This is one of the most important contributions of this book, and I strongly recommend reading chapters 4-8 as the real core of Mosby’s philosophy and vision of neo-tribalism as a survival strategy. Importantly, he makes clear how these concepts apply to survival groups of other spiritual persuasions, and draws parallels to Christianity and other traditions. I find little to criticize and much to praise in this section of the book, which I will leave for the reader to explore.

That said, his discussion of the principles of mutual exclusivity and meritocracy could be improved I think in two respects. Firstly, here would be a good place for more extended historical, mythological, and anthropological evidence to be brought to bear, especially given the wealth of such evidence presented in the early chapters of the book on the decline of empire and the preceding section that makes the case for the use of these types of evidence to support just the kind of argument that he makes here. In particular, I would have liked to have seen more concrete historical evidence as to the natural hierarchies and sharply differentiated identities of tribes in the late and post-Imperial period.

Secondly, Mosby couches his overall argument in terms of Pre-Christian Germano-Celtic tradition, but at the same time tells the reader, “If you happen to be of African, Asian, or Amerindian descent, these principles still apply, although your ancestral cultures probably utilized different terminology for the same fundmental, universally human principles.” (p. 90, footnote 99, emphasis added). More historical, anthropological, and mythological evidence would be very helpful here in order to establish that these principles are indeed universal and that observed differences in tribal form, identity and practice across cultures and times are indeed only terminological in nature.

(In both cases I think that other social science methods may be useful, including social/evolutionary psychology and economic theory.)

Other highlights from the core section of Forging the Hero that really stand out to me are Mosby’s insightful description of reciprocal gifting as integral to building, binding, and sustaining the tribe; his thoughtful discussion of the role of women, children, and non-warrior (“wizard” or clerical advisors) men in the tribe (a refreshing treatment in fields heavily dominated by Viking warrior and tacti-cool-guy imagery); and his explicit advocacy of ancestor veneration as both fundamental to tribal spirituality and a sustaining force for tribes over time.

The final three chapters of the book delve deep in to real-world applications for Mosby’s theories. Here he covers some very practical ideas on the topics of tribe building (ch. 8), a realistic discussion of the morality of violence in a survival context, martial virtue, and combat mindset (ch. 9), and individual preparedness (ch. 10). This is top notch information and advice that I personally either am, or will be in the near future, incorporating myself and recommend to the reader. Though highly useful, some of it will already be familiar to readers who follow the Mountain Guerrilla blog or have read previous Reluctant Partisan volumes.

One final criticism I would note is that Forging the Hero is replete with typographical errors and that the citation of sources is sometimes inconsistent and incomplete. These do not rise to the level of interfering with the clarity of the content and in the author’s defense may be partially due to a rush to publish given the recent explosive growth in the field of popular literature on neo-tribalism (it has more to do with being a shitty typist, and having sub-par editors, apparently..–JM.). They may not always even be noticeable to readers not familiar with standard academic style and attribution, and this book is not intended for an academic audience anyway. I expect that the author might tell anyone complaining about these to fuck off in any event.

In the final analysis, despite a few minor flaws and points of improvement, Forging the Hero is a work of enduring value, which will be passed hand to hand among any who care about the topics addressed therein. It compliments and on some points compares favorably with recent works by other authors on the topics of neo-tribalism, Germanic heathenry, and survivalism, and it is perhaps a unique success in having so effectively integrated these topics. My only real regret with this book is not having read and begun to implement it years ago (funny, as I pointed out to Jim, my regret with this book was not having written it years ago…–JM)