(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 PreparedGunOwners.com. 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 email@example.com 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.
(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.
“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)
The Other Ryan, at Total Survivalist Libertarian Rantfest, did a short write-up on the recent Clandestine Carry Pistol coursework in Missouri.
Apparently, he’s writing a couple of follow-up articles, based on his thoughts regarding the lessons learned at the class.
I’ll just add a couple of comments, based on Ryan’s disclaimer that, “I am going to make a big fat disclaimer that everything said about this course is from my memory and notes. Not trying to put words in Johns mouth or say there are quotes here. If something sounds weird or stupid or wrong any fault is entirely my own.”
- Ryan wrote, “The class goals were as follows:
1- Hit what you aim at.
2- Make rapid good decisions under stress.
3- Draw your pistol under realistic conditions.
4- Defend your pistol and fight to employ it.”
He wasn’t far off. My stated goals for the course are:
1- Be able to hit what you are shooting at. (In the context of real-world shooting, I point out that this is probably going to increasingly require the ability to make solid head shots at combative pistol distances, for various reasons, ranging from explosive vest equipped active shooters–which we WILL see in this country sooner rather than later–or even simply multiple assailants that need to be put down, NOW. Pistols are notoriously shitty at stopping people, period. Putting them down RIGHT THE FUCK NOW! in the context of multiple bad dudes trying to stomp the dogpiss out of you, pretty much requires popping brain cavities, when limited to a handgun.
2- He’s spot on here. While being able to shoot accurately is often listed as the most important skill in a gunfight, I point out that this is actually far more important. It doesn’t matter if you can shoot the bad guy’s eye out, if you make a shitty decision, and decide that six year old that ran up behind you and scared the shit out of you was the bad guy. (Don’t get too high and mighty. There have been a LOT of what Claude Werner refers to as “Negative Outcomes” because of piss-poor decision making abilities, coupled with trigger happy gun owners with too much firepower.
3- I actually cite the goal as, “Be able to get the gun into action, in time to be useful,” which covers both Ryan’s #3 and #4 goals. For my coursework, most of this is focused on expediting the drawstroke/presentation, giving you more time to make good decisions, both before and after the draw begins. We do include a block on what fighting to the gun involves, but I firmly believe guys like Cecil Burch, Paul Sharp, and Craig Douglas have the best developed POIs around for this, and don’t have any interest in even trying to match what they are doing.
“The other way this class is different is that we shot EVERYTHING from concealment. I think this is totally valid in the context of this course and realistically any handgun training. …Why don’t other classes do this? Like the 3×5 card accuracy standard this is not mirrored throughout the training world. Seeing guys wearing big ole paddded ‘war belts’ and OWB duty type rigs is quite common. One class I looked at taking did not even allow IWB holsters!”
I cannot imagine a “defensive pistol” course, or a “practical protection pistol” course that didn’t expect students to draw from concealment. That doesn’t even make fucking sense. I would also point out, for the Appendix-carry fearmongers out there….off this class, all but one or two guys carried A-IWB, and *gasp* NOBODY SHOT THEIR DICK OFF! Apparently, thinking your way through what you are doing, and practicing good gunhandling actually DOES make a difference, after all.
We, as products of western civilization, tend to hold the view of “barbarians” as uncouth, slovenly, unindustrious hillbillies. This, despite the fact that there are artifacts of the barbarian past that we still cannot explain the construction of, outside of attributing it to “space aliens.” Yet, without the specialist divisions of labor inherent to civilization, our barbarian forebears managed to not only feed and clothe their families, they managed to develop their mental faculties to a degree that allowed them to develop many of the cultural values we tend to hold dear even today (because, as I pointed out in Forging the Hero, the values we tend to hold up as the most cherished of “American values” are NOT Roman, but were originally Celto-Germanic tribal traditions that survived the Imperial period).
The fact is, those ancestors of ours were very industrious and productive…they just didn’t produce the same things, in the same industries that the urban civilizations did. That doesn’t make their contributions less valuable, unless your metric of value is how long a relic lasts, even after it is no longer useful.
I had a conversation with an acquaintance the other day, whom we will refer to as Bill, that led to some startling revelations for me, about my own world views, and the vast gulf that apparently exists between exactly how barbaric (by which I mean, “foreign,” rather than “vicious”) compared to most people in contemporary American civilization. It was ironic, because this conversation happened shortly after I had seen a meme on social media that said, “My goal is to create a life a I don’t need a vacation from.” I HAVE a life I don’t WANT a vacation from…and that is pretty damned foreign to people, apparently, So, this article is a brief discussion, based on the conversation I had with Bill, about how I’ve gone about creating that life. Best of all, it’s a life that I can continue, regardless of what happens in International Geopolitics in the coming days, weeks, and months.
Bill works, like most people, 40 hours a week, at a relatively stress free job. He’s not in a management position, and his job, while mildly physical, is not particularly strenuous. It’s not like he’s digging the Erie Canal with a spade and a wheelbarrow. He’s not logging virgin old-growth forest with a two-man crosscut saw and a fucking ax. He’s in a climate-controlled building, and isn’t expected to life more than about 50 pounds.
Despite that, he claimed—and his wife verified—that he is “so exhausted’ when he gets home, that he can only spend an hour or two with his kids before he goes to bed for the night.
If a person “has” to work forty hours a week, “for the man,” to pay their bills, I get it. We all got bills t pay, and not everyone is cut out for entrepreneurship. I’ve had regular day jobs in the past (although, to be honest, I’ve NEVER had a 40-hours per week job, except in high school. I’ve always worked a minimum of 50-60 hours a week, when I worked for wages). I even have a “regular” job now, although I do work for myself (I don’t make a full-time living as a writer or as a trainer, and I’m not interested in doing so in either case). The difference between Bill and I—and all of our successful ancestors throughout the past—is that I don’t stop at 1700.
I started writing this blog while I was working a 70-80 hours per week job, that had me outdoors, summer and winter, in Wyoming, doing hard physical labor. Lifted loads could go as high as 100+ pounds, even in the middle of the night, in a snowstorm. The blog of course, resulted in teaching some classes on the side, followed by THREE books, all while working a regular, “real” job at the same time. While neither the blog—which I have never monetized—the books, nor the classes have been profitable enough to provide a sole income, they have offered enough extra to allow me to take the risk to go to work for myself, doing something that I really enjoy. It certainly didn’t reduce my working hours though.
I have another acquaintance, that I know through my clan, who is in his mid-50s. His name is Bob. Bob was recently bitching to me about how he’s worked “hard” all his life, and wants to retire, because he “deserves” it, after working so hard all of his life. Here’s the catch though, Bob doesn’t have any retirement savings. Without delving into the lack of providence and good judgment THAT implies, the fact is—and I’ve known Bob since I was a kid—the dude, in point of fact, did NOT “work hard” his entire life, by any objective metric. He worked 40 hours a week, sitting on his ass, and took his two weeks of paid vacation every year. If he wasn’t at work, he was sitting on is ass, watching television and drinking cheap beer. He and his wife collected food stamps and every other source of welfare aid they could finagle out of the government as they “raised” four children.
I’m gonna tell you right now, if you consider working 40 hours a week as “working hard,” don’t look to me for sympathy at your life failures. Don’t look to your ancestors for sympathy. Don’t look to the Founding Fathers for sympathy. In that case, the only place you’ll find sympathy is in the dictionary. It’s right between “shit” and “syphilis.”
I’m not saying a dude has to go out and get a second job for wages, but if your metric of “success” in life is being able to come home, after working an eight hour shift, and sitting on your couch, eating pretzels and drinking a case of beer, you DESERVE to live in the shitty trailer you live in.
The third problem that Bill brought up, before I got sick of listening to his bitching, and told him to shut the fuck up, he didn’t recognize as a problem either. He thought he was doing “good.” I was trying to help the dude out, to figure out why he was stuck living in a shithole duplex that was falling apart around his family, despite “working hard” at his 40 hours a week job. So, I asked how much they were paying for rent. When he told me, “$500,” and I knew he clears close to $30K a year, I just about choked on my Copenhagen. I mean, I was legitimately confused. How can you bitch about being broke, when you make over $30,000 a year, and only pay a fifth of it, per year, in rent? That doesn’t add up, at all.
Well, it turns out, when you pay over $1500 a month to the local Rent-To-Own joint, in an attempt to “build up your credit,” making ends meet at the end of the month gets a lot more challenging. I bought my wife a television a few years ago. It’s the first television I’d ever owned in my life. As I recall, I paid right around $700 for it. 60” flat screen, new-in-the box. Well, as it so happens, Bill and his wife “own” the exact same model of television…they’ve paid $150 per month, every month, for the last two years, to pay it off, and they still owe money on it. Now, mathematics was never my strong suit in school, but…
My wife found a beautiful, all leather, five piece living room suite of furniture a couple years ago, on Craigslist. We paid like $400 for it. Meanwhile, Bill and his wife “bought” an upholstered, three cushion couch, at the RTO store…they pay $250 a month for it…and have been paying for it for the last eighteen months (and his wife told me, they still have to pay for another year!). When I asked why the fuck they were paying that much for so little, I got the typical lower-class response of, “Well, we’re trying to build up our credit scores!”
Aghast, and more than a little sick to my stomach at their utter stupidity, I hastened to point out three things to Bill and his wife, that I had assumed were common knowledge among everyone over the age of, I don’t know, twenty-five?
- Most Rent-To-Own places do NOT report to the credit bureaus, so even if you do make your payments every month, it doesn’t do fuck all for your credit score.
- The last time I financed anything was a pick-up, in the mid-1990s, when I was a young NCO. Seriously, I’ve never financed ANYTHING since, until my wife and I bought land (more on that later). Despite that, when we started looking at property, I got a credit report. My score was well over 700. See, as it turns out, while the Rent-To-Own places, like the Buy Here, Pay Here used car lots, do NOT report to the credit bureaus, the utility companies actually do…so, if you pay your bills on time, you end up with a good credit score, even if you’re not buying a bunch of shit on credit. Since I’m not throwing my money away on finance charges for overpriced bullshit, I can manage to pay my bills on time.
- Why exactly are you trying to “build your credit score?” Bill and his wife claimed they might want to buy property, or a house, or a car, in the future. What I can guarantee, is that, at the rate they’re going, they will never be purchasing real estate, period. They’re not going to be able to come up with the money for a down payment…
So, let’s analyze the situation Bill and his wife find themselves in, and I’ll offer some tried-and-true, apparently VERY barbaric solutions to them…
First of all, we’ve got a dude, in his early 30s, with a fuck-all easy job, working a mere 40 hours a week, who needs in excess of 13 hours of sleep every night. I get needing to sleep in occasionally…like once a month…maybe even once a week, even, but if you religiously need more than eight hours of sleep every night, in your 30s? You need a fucking doctor’s appointment, because you are ill. I—and most of the successful people I know—average between 4 and 6 hours of sleep most nights, with the occasional eight hour night, once a month or so. If I sleep ten hours, I wake up feeling like shit, because I’ve slept too much and dicked up my diurnal rhythms.
Fixing this is going to be a three-part task for Bill, or anyone in the same predicament.
- Start eating healthier. This isn’t about “eating Paleo,” although that’s a damned fine idea, cheaper than the processed “meals” and fast-food he is currently surviving on, and generally helps a lot. Every time I go off Paleo, even for a meal, I pay a heavy price for it in physical and mental sluggishness, intestinal distress, and lost productivity, sitting on the toilet, shitting my brains out.
This is about eating real food. Granted, his wife will probably have to learn how to cook. Simple enough, she knows how to read, at least at a high school level, and can presumably do basic mathematics. Look up some recipes, and get to it. It’s not like she’s got a fucking job anyway, in today’s shit economy. It will also require retraining their children to eat real food, rather than the shit they’ve grown up with. Here’s the thing though…Even buying grass-fed beef and farm-fresh, free-range, organic eggs (the latter from a neighbor until our new batch of hens start laying), we can buy a week’s worth of Paleo diet groceries for less than $150, for our family of four. If we eat out, at any place that is NOT fast-food, we’re looking at $30-40 per meal, minimum, and even fast-food is anywhere from $20-30 a meal.
- Start doing some PT. I’m not talking about some sort of hard core, John Mosby, The Reluctant Partisan PT regimen. I’m not talking about Forging The Hero stuff here. I’m talking about being fit enough that you don’t need to sleep thirteen-motherfucking-hours a night! Most of the people I know who are even remotely physically fit find six hours of sleep a night ideal, and only push it to eight hours a night if they are in the midst of a particularly grueling training cycle, and need it for post-workout recovery. How much more could you accomplish in your life with an extra SEVEN hours per day? Dude is wasting that much, being so unfit that he needs 13 hours of sleep every night…
Even if he just walked to the park with his kids, and played on the monkey bars and slides with them, he’d get physical benefit from it (and for the record, Bill is not overweight, let alone obese. He’s just unhealthy unfit.)
- Practice a little self-discipline. Initially, coming off a too-long sleep cycle is going to be a pain-in-the-ass. It’s really easy to roll over and slap the snooze button a dozen times, or to just turn the alarm clock off. It’s too easy to decide, “Oh, I feel a little, tired. I’m gonna go to bed early tonight.” Don’t succumb. Live up to the gifts of the past and practice a smidgen of your ancestral self-discipline. If you go even a week, forcing yourself to only sleep 6-8 hours a week, while eating healthier, and doing a little bit to get yourself fitter, you’re going to find it easy after that. Just do it.
Second, we’ve got a dude who thinks 40 hours a week, at a stress-free job, is “working hard.” Fixing his health and fitness will go a long way towards remedying that. Then, he’s got to decide what to do with that extra time he’s created in his day. Civilized people, of course, according to modern civilized values, would choose to watch television, surf the Internet, or go drink beer in the yard with their buddies.
The barbarian answer is different: create something of value for your family and tribe! Maybe Bill could find a second, part-time job. Better, he could find something he either enjoys—or even hates, but is good at—and create a side business. It might not pay much, especially initially, but even a little bit is better than nothing—which is exactly how much you make, sitting on your ass, watching television, while drinking beer.
Don’t settle for the mediocrity of the minimum. Raise your own stature within your tribal community. Working forty hours a week should be seen as a minimum. This doesn’t mean you HAVE to go find a second job though. Anything that creates VALUE for your family counts. Remember? “Who does more is worth more!” If you put in four hours a day, after work, in the backyard with your kids, planting and tending a garden and some backyard livestock like rabbits, how much value would you add, through additional savings on your grocery bill?
Or, create your own side business! Look at your skill sets, vocationally or avocationally. How can you leverage those into some additional income? Bill likes doing mechanic work. He loves tinkering around in engines (I don’t get it. I hate that shit, but whatever…). I suggested to Bill, “Call the RTO store, and tell them to come take this shit back. Take the $250 you spend on your couch payment, and go to Goodwill, and buy a fucking used couch. Hell, the one you’re buying is used anyway, now. Take the television payment, and if it is really important that the kids get to watch cartoons, go buy a little television and a DVD player, and let them watch that. Take the money you’ve been spending on that overpriced shit, and set it aside into savings. In a month or two, go buy a piece of shit, beater car. Clean it up, tune it up, fix any broken shit, and then resell it.” Even if the profit is only a couple hundred bucks, you’ve created new value! Better, since he could be doing it in the backyard or garage, he could be spending time with his kids, and teaching them a valuable skill at the same time! Is he going to make a living off of it? Probably not. He is going to get to spend quality time with his kids though, and create value. Doing so will require not sleeping thirteen goddamned hours a night though!
Maybe you don’t have any hobbies or skills though. Maybe you went to college, got a useless degree in some stupid shit like “Underwater Basket Weaving of Lesbian Afro-Asian Cultural Groups,” and you’ve spend your entire “adulthood” in your parents’ basement, watching television and playing video games. Now though, you recognize that you need to do something, and you’d like to not live in your parents’ house anymore, because it is cramping your dating life (I’d offer that unemployment and a total lack of conversational skill about anything other than television and video games is more to blame…).
Think of something that you’d like to try, or something that might be useful later in your life. Your degree is in “Underwater Basket Weaving of Lesbian Afro-Asian Cultural Groups?” Great! Start weaving fucking baskets, and see if you can create a market for them. Yuppies are all kinds of into handicrafts and shit, right? You want to move out of your parents’ house, but cannot imagine being able to afford a house on your convenience store clerk wages? Great, do what a friend of mine did, with zero previous experience…go spend a couple hundred bucks at local pawn shops and thrift stores, and pick up some used tools. Go to the lumber store and buy some lumber. Go watch a metric fuckton of YouTube videos, and get to it. Sure, trial-and-error is a hard way to learn, but it is possible.
I know a dude who had zero woodworking experience, and is now in the finishing stages of building a timber-framed house, from the ground up…including a native stone foundation! He worked in the evenings and his days off, simply because he wanted to, and was willing to do the work, to give his family a nice home that he knew he couldn’t afford to have someone else build for him. I know a couple of different dudes who have built log houses that would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to have built, by themselves, with no previous professional carpentry experience. They were just willing to do the work, and they didn’t believe that the day ends at 1700.
It’s not just about saving money—although you might learn to make a lot of stuff you would otherwise buy, and you’re not spending that money on stupid shit like crappy “food,” and finance charges for televisions—but you might actually be able to turn it into a profitable side business that creates added value for your family and clan. My buddy the new timber-framer has already started about building small timber-framed outbuildings and guest cabins for sale…and there’s apparently a market for them, no less. Bill, that inspired this post, could be selling a car or two a month, even at a small profit, in the shit-hole economy we are in, by selling below what a dealership has to sell at to make overhead.
Third, we’ve got a dude—or a couple, actually—who has bought into the consumer materialism of contemporary civilization, and believes they have to have all this “stuff,” so they won’t be embarrassed when people come over to visit. That requires more effort than the other two, but it’s really all mental effort.
Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle! It’s environmentally friendly, no less! The crass, mercantile materialism of contemporary civilizations makes it really easy to partake of instant gratification, and all you have to do is pay far more than the products are worth! That’s something our forebears didn’t have, most of the time, and I would argue, they were far, far better off because of it. If you want a television, so you can watch The Voice? Fine. I think it’s retarded, but my wife likes to watch that show, so whatever floats your boat—Hell, I’ll even admit that I like music enough that occasionally one of the performers will make me look up from my book, when they perform well on a song I like. Don’t finance a fucking television though. Set money aside and wait until you can pay cash for it, buy a cheaper, used television, or—best of all—do without. It’s nothing but a productivity waste (in our house, I’ve found we basically have to establish rules that forbid turning it on during daylight hours, or keep everyone outside doing things, or we get sucked into it. If it hadn’t made my wife happy to be able to watch movies, I’d regret ever having bought one.)
Our truck has over 400,000 miles on. We still drive it across the country for teaching classes. Unlike Bill, I don’t like mechanic work. I actually detest it. I do it though, because we can’t afford to buy a newer vehicle, and I’ll be damned if I will finance one.
One of the big complaints I see a lot, in the whining over the state of the world, in preparedness circles, is bitching about evil bankers. Here’s the thing though…if you’re bitching about evil bankers, and you are currently paying interest payments on (almost) anything you’ve financed, you’re full of shit.
The “(almost)” is legit. I see a lot of people bitch about “owner financed properties,” but those complaints originate with the banks and realtors, because they are losing out. If you believe in “evil bankers,” but you’re opposed to “owner financed” real estate, you’re full of shit…or dumber than a box of shit. You might pay a little bit more in interest rates—or not, if you do your homework, and haggle well—and if you miss a payment, there might be less wiggle room for forgiveness than with the banks, but you’re paying that interest to a person, rather than a bank, and you have a lot more room to haggle on price than you do with a real estate agent looking for a bigger commission, or a bank representative with a board of directors to answer to.
I understand financing real estate. It’s the only thing I’m even willing to consider financing, and we did. We also got a ridiculously low interest rate, despite owner-financing, negotiated a sale price well below market value, pay a little extra every month, so we will be paid off in 2/3 the length of the note (further reducing our interest costs….), and always make our payment at least a week earlier than the due date. As a result, the seller has put in writing a change to the contract that gives us more leeway, in case we are ever late on our payments. It’s very barbaric—again, as in foreign—to modern civilization, but that is called “being responsible,” and it’s something our barbarian ancestors were intimately familiar with.
Seriously, quit your bitching and whining. Are the politicians, bankers, and the rest of the oligarchic class working contrary to your interests? Of course they are. So fucking what? They’ve always been doing so. Even George Washington, the patron fucking saint of America and the constitution, sent the Army to fight the agrarian yeoman of Jeffersonian Democracy during the Whiskey Rebellion. You can remain a “civilized” peasant, and bitch and whine about how unfair it is, or you can say, “fuck it!” step outside the boundaries that contemporary civilization is trying to restrain you within, and go full-on barbarian, to create your own definition of success—by being your own man—or woman—and doing what you need to do to create the life you want.
Anyone who has taken my advice to read Glubb, and Toynbee, and Spengler, should have at least begun to brush away the cobwebs of cultural myopia, and recognized, this election really doesn’t mean a damned thing. The empire IS in its death throes. Remaining a peasant, hoping the aristocracy will wake up and do the “right” thing, as you define it, is one potential path. Saying “fuck it,” following Jack Donovan’s advice, and “learning to love the battle ax,” and creating your own innangarth of shared values, customs, and traditions, with like-minded people, by forging the life YOU want, is another.
Only one of them allows you and your people to survive the death of the empire though.
I don’t do a lot of marketing for my classes and books. When we’re doing a class, I post it, then drop it. If you want to come take the class, you’ll get value, but if you choose not to, I don’t actually care. If you want to buy the books, you WILL get more than your money’s worth out of it, but if you don’t, it’s not going to break my heart. To use Jack Donovan’s phrase, “Not my people, not my problem.” If you don’t think the information is worth the price, okay.
Today may be seen as a little different. This is going to look like an attempt to push Forging the Hero from a marketing angle. Take it or leave it.
I’ve had a few emails in recent weeks, specifically asking about my apparent switch in focus from doctrinal SF UW, to more of a tribal angle. As one correspondent termed it, “You’ve gone from Guerrilla to Germanic.” As I’ve pointed out, in numerous examples, and in every one of my books, this is a misreading of the facts, and is a very narrow view of the subject.
Nevertheless, since it is apparently a commonly held belief among readers, I thought I would share a little bit about my reasons. In some ways, I have deviated from doctrine. The problem is that, at the strategic level, SF UW doctrine is still a product of conventional military education and prejudices. It presupposes that bigger is always better, and the overall aim should always be the maintenance of the status quo within Western Civ/Culture. At the end of the day, SFODA are using local indig Gs to prepare the battle space for conventional force operations, either through the notional idea of turning the G force irregular INTO regular, conventional force units, or by creating enough of a “gap” for US conventional forces to enter the battle space with “boots on the ground.” Either way, the end game goal remains, “let’s build a cohesive, conventional force that can be controlled, or demobilized, depending on what we need, when we win.”
My goal of course, is not that. My goal is not to–nor has it ever been–to overthrow the government. My goal is to help people build resilient, survivable communities, and specifically, the ability to protect those communities from outside threats and internal subversion. So, we utilize the tactical aspects of SF UW doctrine (which is really just conventional SUT, applied in unconventional ways), to what Civilization would call “unconventional,” and the human experience over the last 20-200,000 years would label “normal” or “conventional.”
I don’t believe that the American Empire can be saved (whether it should be or not, were it possible, is open to debate). I believe, based on my observations and study, combined with a relatively robust understanding of history and the patterns thereof, that we have already begun an inexorable decline. The excerpt below, which is most of Chapter One of Forging The Hero, explains the reasoning behind that, and goes a long way towards explaining why I take the approach that I take in my teaching and writing.
(I have deleted the considerable number of footnotes from the excerpt, which is sad, because they are important to overall grasp of the material, and some of them are flat fucking funny, if I do say so myself.)
Some of what I say in this excerpt could trigger negative emotions in some readers heavily entrenched in the cultural mythology of the Divine Inspiration of American Greatness and Singularity. If that is the case, I suggest finding your fucking Safe Space and burying your head in the sand.
Like most people in our society, I find myself in constant social and professional contact with people from the entire span of political persuasions, and the entire spectrum of age from children and teenagers, across my own middle-aged demographic, to the elderly. Universally it seems, whether young or old, Progressive, Conservative, or Other, the consensus I observe is that everyone understands that “shit just ain’t right.”
It’s been said that discussing societal collapse is a conversation killer. It’s a sure way to not get invited to the next cocktail party. Social inertia can be an awe-inspiring thing, after all. People are inherently social. In addition to—but generally far more powerful than—any internal conversations, much of our motivation, self-image, and even self-worth, are derived from our interactions with other people, and the vast majority of human beings exhibit an entirely human condition that is an aversion to even the thought of discomfort.
While many so-called “preppers” seem to harbor some sort of internal sense that collapse will be some sort of grand adventure, releasing them from the misery of their failure to fit into society, finally rewarding them for being social pariahs, most people actually understand the truism penned by famed Western pulp fiction writer Louis L’Amour that “adventure is just a fancy word for trouble.” Thus, for most people, the discussion of the potential—let alone inevitable—collapse of society and civilization, is a serious faux pas in polite company. It makes people uncomfortable, and people who enjoy being sociable do not make people uncomfortable.
This has changed significantly in recent years though, as preparedness has apparently gone mainstream. People are talking about it. Movies are being made about the subject. Books are being published, by mainstream publishing houses, and sold in major bookstores, on the subject of preparedness. All because everybody is beginning to recognize that “shit just ain’t right.”
The discussions range from what form the coming doomsday will take, to what methods can be used to survive different elements of it. Will it be terrorists, or the Russians, or the Chinese setting off some sort of Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) weapon? Will it be terrorist dirty bombs in the cities? Will it be government crackdowns on “domestic terrorists” and gun owners? Will it be the crossover past Peak Oil and the resulting price inflation of everyday consumer goods? Will it be melting ice caps and coastal regions being flooded because of Climate Change? Will it be….will it…will…..?
What nobody—or almost nobody—has worked up to bring into the conversation, is the real question: “what are we doing about the collapse that we are already in?”
“Ain’t nothin’ new under the Sun, boy.”
As a youth, I once tried to explain some new social trend to my grandfather. Although I genuinely don’t recall what this critically important novelty was, some three decades later, I do recall his response to me, verbatim: “There ain’t nothin’ new under the sun, boy. It’s all happened before.” This is particularly true in the case of history, including social collapse.
The experiences of the human species have been recorded in the written word, in one form or another, as history, for over four thousand years1. Prehistory, defined as that portion of the collective human experience that predates the written word, is also available for study, through the archaeological and paleontological record, for hundreds of thousands of years, back to—and preceding—the first appearance of anatomically-modern human beings, in the form of Cro-Magnon Man, some 200,000 years ago.
While it is popular, in our increasingly myopic society, to dismiss the past as unworthy of note, except as plot devices in blockbuster cinema, if we bother to look objectively as such broad expanses of time, across as many different human cultures as possible, we begin to discover a striking similarity between the patterns of development and behavior of peoples, across vastly different conditions of climate, culture, and religion. Such a study necessarily leads the inquisitive and insightful to recognize the importance of the questions, “if we study these patterns calmly and impartially, might we not discover some Truths of human nature, but also, possible solutions to the problems that our culture faces today?” We can, after all, recognize in these recurring patterns, the same things occurring, over and over again, throughout the entire span of human existence. The patterns, of course, are particularly clear over the four thousand-plus years of written human history; we just have to be able to recognize them for what they are.
It has been said, “the only thing we learn from history is that man never learns from history.” While that is a disturbingly broad generalization about humanity’s foibles—that is, after all, the point of studying history—when one views the chaos engulfing our society today, and the solutions being proposed for that chaos, through the lens of history, it becomes blindingly obvious that the political and cultural schism being used to tear apart the fabric of our society have all been experienced before, for the exact same purposes. That gives us a pretty solid basis for hypothesizing the probable outcomes.
There are numerous causes that can be blamed for our collective failure to learn from history. Most of these are the result solely of culturally-created cognitive biases. First and foremost however, is the natural human condition of xenophobia. Properly defined as “an intense distrust of the foreign or unfamiliar,” xenophobia is a completely natural part of the human condition. It has played an important instinctual role in the evolutionary survival of the species, and still offers benefits, despite the whining pleas of collectivists to ignore it.
Unfortunately, xenophobia also has drawbacks, since it leads to a failure of the ability to learn from the entirety of the human experience, leading to a myopic limitation on our study of history. All that came before is foreign and unfamiliar to us, never mind the idea of looking to other countries and cultures for valuable lessons to be learned. It is a common understanding in some preparedness and “patriot” circles that “most” Americans have no consciousness of their own history. My own experiences however, have amply demonstrated that, even among that small number of Americans who do study history, all too often, the evidence pretty clearly indicates that they believe history started sometime around 1774. We don’t give a damn about the history of “others,” so we don’t study it, and look for parallels to our own experiences. This limit on the available patterns for comparative study however, within the entire human experience is, obviously, detrimental to our ability to learn from history and prehistory.
Even within our xenophobic approach to history, we form a limited narrative of our own national and cultural histories, due to cognitive biases. We focus on those periods of history that allow us to recognize our ancestors as heroes and “the good guys,” according to our own contemporary definitions. We tend to focus on those eras when they were prosperous and victorious, ignoring their defeats and roguery. We ignore the entirely too human traits of our forebears that we view as negative, and we overlook their defeats, turning them into idealized morality plays, by redefining the definitions of cultural values like courage.
A perfect example of this can be seen in the treatment, within the general education system—and thus the public imagination—of George Washington’s administration during the “Whiskey Rebellion.” Having led the Continental Army to victory in a struggle for independence from the British crown over taxes, as the head of state for the new American government, Washington suffered no qualms about calling out the federal army to crush a rebellion over taxation. Now that the figurative crown was on his own head, he was more than willing to crush an effort that was almost identical to the rebellion he had led against the British Crown. Too often, because our popular histories overlook this in their zeal to applaud the Founders for their “divinely inspired” crusade for liberty, people are completely unaware of these events that occurred less than three years after the new constitution was ratified.
At the same time, we dehumanize and belittle our foes, making them subhuman in our imaginations, rather than looking at the story objectively, and including their points-of-view and perceived reasons for their actions. We create, in our own minds and within the minds of our people, a national propaganda, rather than an objective history that would allow for the ability to conduct a well-balanced, educational investigation of the past.
When we do manage to tear ourselves free of the grandeur of our own idealized national/cultural mythology, and look outward at world history, we focus only on certain, relatively short, generally disconnected epochs that serve to reinforce our own myths. Following the typical curriculum of world history in the American education system—assuming that subject is even still taught today—we might look at the city-states of ancient Greece, to try and find connections between our own culture and the mob democracy of Athens, even though more accurate comparison would be made with the oligarchy of Plato’s hypothetical Republic, for the model that our current system seems to be based on.
Within the militarization of the populace in support of the Global War on Terror (GWOT), we’ve seen the emphasis switch, in the popular imagination, to the idealization of the warrior-caste of Sparta, with near deification of Leonidas and his “three hundred” at the Hot Gates of Thermopylae. Conveniently, this new found awe for the actions of the 300 ignores several salient facts: 1) there were actually somewhere in the vicinity of 15,000 Hellenes at Thermopylae, and 2) Sparta was a slavery- based economy allowing for the male citizens to do nothing except train for war every day—the antithesis of what our contemporary culture is supposed to actually reflect—and far contrary to the soft, doughy, laziness of the vast majority of American life.
We look to the Roman Republic for the founding myths of our system of republicanism, defined as a system of governance through representatives elected by the people, without a central monarch. We see the decline of the Roman Empire labeled as the “Dark Ages,” and look for parallels that herald the perils that face our own culture. We ignore the “barbarian” tribal origins of the Roman Republic, and ignore—except in their role as the uncivilized antagonists to the culture we choose to adore—the Celto- Germanic peoples of the rest of Europe, despite the fact that most of what we consider the greatest “traditional American values” are actually derived from those cultures, and not from the licentious, reprehensible, profligate, government worshiping debauchery that was Rome, even after Christianization.
In order to begin to gain any real value from the study of human ancestral paths however, to discover potential solutions to our current social and political conditions, it is essential that we manage to force ourselves outside of our culturally conditioned cognitive biases, and look at the story of the entire human experience from a broader perspective, rather than limiting ourselves to our own short, idealized national mythology. This is not a suggestion to ignore—or worse, discredit—our own ancestral cultures, as has become ever more popular in the myopia of academia and the popular imagination, thanks to the efforts of our modern oligarchs to create a “one world, one (consumer) culture” intended to increase their control and profit margins.
On the contrary, as we will see, within the context of our purposes—surviving the decline and collapse of an American empire—each of us owes it to ourselves, our families, and our communities; even to the idea of America itself, to look first towards our own ancestral cultures, for the universal answers we seek. The validity of that approach moreover, is proven by the objective study of the broader human experience.
The prehistory and history of humanity is a constant, cyclical process, developing, changing, and rolling backwards over itself. Contrary to the beliefs of progressives and Utopians of all flavors, once we manage to step outside of our cultural comfort zones and temporarily set aside our xenophobia, we can easily recognize the absurdity of the notion that we are on some sort of evolutionary progression upwards in human development. Any useful ideas however, can only be extracted when we observe them within the context of the whole, rather than through the selection of short periods, here and there, within a single cultural and environmental context, specifically selected to reinforce an already extent cultural bias. This becomes doubly critical when those biases are demonstrably false.
The experience of the mythology of the American empire is firmly rooted in the transition of the Roman Republic into the Empire, with Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon, and its subsequent dissolution, but is paralleled in other imperial experiences as well. While the political structures we cling to are derivatives—at best—of the Republic and Empire, many—if not most—of the cultural values we hold sacred are actually “barbarian” values of the Celto-Germanic tribes3 that were adopted by the decaying Empire’s citizens during the decline and fall.
The Imperial Legacy
The parallels between the decline and fall of modern, American imperialism, and that of Rome have been discussed and analyzed countless times in the past, even though most contemporary Americans, comfortable in the passive ignorance they are spoon-fed by the media have, at best, only a passing familiarity with the idea. Perhaps most famously, the late Sir John Baget Glubb (1897-1987) wrote The Fate of Empires and the Search for Survival, in 1978. The Fate of Empires is a short essay that describes and explains Glubb’s interpretation of the cyclical parallels of human empires ranging from the ancient Assyrians to the United States.
As the cultural inheritors of the Britannic imperial legacy, most Americans view an empire in that limited context alone, and thus do not recognize our own imperialism. An empire is imagined as a political home state, like England, with far-flung colonies of emigrants around the globe, making the home state rich by paying taxes, buying manufactured products at retail, and shipping natural, local resources “back home” at lower, wholesale prices. Obviously, there is some validity in that definition of an empire, since our own history is such. It is however, a very short view of history that uses that as the sole—or even primary—definition of the term.
Throughout most of the human political experience, the term empire had a much simpler, albeit more encompassing meaning. An empire was a nation with an overwhelmingly strong military presence, surrounded by subjugated peoples and nations, within the span of the empire’s ability to project that military force, who paid tribute to the imperial power. This tribute could be in the form of gold and silver, and often was, but it could—and did—come in other forms as well. It might be through the exploitation of natural resources and goods, or it might be through the forced servitude of slaves and soldiers in the interest of the Empire. The only colonists would be soldiers garrisoning the imperial outposts, to protect the wealth and to preclude or put down rebellion, as well as a small number of experts in the service of the empire that were needed to extract the local wealth more efficiently.
The governance of the local people would more often than not, be left to the local indigenous leaders, subject to the guidance of imperial decree through the mouthpiece of the local garrison commander. As long as the local puppet government kept the wealth flowing into the imperial coffers, their position—and whatever wealth they managed to skim off the export—was safe. Ultimately however, the goal of empire is—and has always been—to gain wealth from the subjugated peoples. If the local indigenous government fell short in that, they were deposed and replaced with more accommodating and capable local puppets, or an imperial governor might be placed in power.
Today of course, even though we complicate things with moralistic jingoism about “installing democracy,” the same basic organization and behavior can be observed. We have imperial powers, with a few “allied” nations that support the empire in return for a share of the plundered wealth. Outside of these, we have the subject nations who serve, ultimately, as nothing more than a source of wealth for the imperial power.
Beyond these “spheres of influence,” we have unaligned nations that are not subject to the imperial powers, for whatever reasons—typically a lack of recognizable or easily exportable wealth, combined with little or no strategic value in relation to opposing empires—and hostile, opposing imperial powers. One of the problems that ultimately arises for any empire—and that we face today—is that the natural resource wealth of any given nation is finite. At some point, it becomes more expensive to get those resources from the local environment than the profit potential they offer the empire. At that point, the empire has to begin looking elsewhere for the resources it needs to support itself and the standard-of- living that its people have grown accustomed to, or it faces internal strife and rebellion. Further, the allied nations start looking for a new sugar daddy.
This ultimately—invariably—leads to war, since the choices for new wealth are really limited to a) projecting military force further out, and invading unaligned countries that might have some exploitable wealth, or b) encroaching on the territory of other imperial powers. Even if choice a) is made, that indirectly places the imperial powers on the path to conflict with other imperial powers—or aspiring imperial powers—who recognize that they too will need those resources shortly. This is a particularly relevant issue today, as opposed to the ancient world, since we can now circumnavigate the globe in hours and days, whereas historically, something days away might as well have been a different planet for most people.
If we look to Sir John’s essay, we can learn from his study that we are demonstrably an imperial power, and are within the last days of greatness within the natural life cycle of empire, both chronologically and historically. History provides us with a considerable amount of information on the many empires that have existed throughout humanity’s existence, and an overview of the major imperial powers of the western world’s experience led Sir John to compellingly argue that human empires have a common pattern of experience, and a shared lifespan of roughly two-and-a-half centuries, if not shorter.
(The book contains a table here, showing the duration of twelve different empires in human history, taken from Glubb’s essay.)
The list of empires included in Baget’s monograph requires several comments. First of all, it obviously does not list every power that has ever been labeled—or labeled itself—an empire. Many national “empires” have been imperial only in the modern sense of the word; they held control over one or more overseas colonies for some period of time. These generally only existed following the establishment of the modern European nation-state concept developed with the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648.
Second, the dates listed are relatively arbitrary, and are ongoing sources of academic debate among historians. For instance, saying that the Roman Empire “fell” with the death of Marcus Aurelius in 180 CE, seems false on the face of it. After all, there were Roman emperors for several more centuries, and both the Eternal City and the Legions continued to exert influence for long after. Setting aside, for the moment, that this is itself a large part of the point of this book, it’s important to note that this date marks the end of the imperial legacy because it was the beginning of the total implosion of Roman imperialism, not the end of claims of imperial hegemony. After 180 CE, what survived of the Roman Empire was being rent apart by internal strife and constant civil war, as well as foreign invasion on all sides. There is no way—outside of the professional arrogance of tenured academia—to say conclusively, “this empire began on this date, and ended on that date.” There is typically a period of expansion and growth as the imperial culture expands its growth and power, rising from a small, localized band of aggressive tribesmen, until they have consolidated power, during the formative years, before it is can even be labeled an “empire” legitimately. During the decline, there may be years, decades, or even centuries, of disintegration and increasing failure in control of the populace and the infrastructure, indicating the impotence of the empire, while the imperial government still possesses the trappings of power. The above example of Rome, following the death of Aurelius, is the example par excellence of this. Together, these factors make it categorically impossible to place an exact date on the birth or death of most empires that will be universally agreed upon by historians. Trying to do is is either intellectual convenience—as in Glubb’s case—or intellectual chicanery to reinforce a preconceived bias.
Finally, there are some arguably longer surviving empires missing from Glubb’s list. The Byzantine, for example, is not on the list. The Byzantine, or Eastern Roman Empire, existed however, solely as a result of the schisms that marked the destruction of the Roman Empire, and although the throne would be held for centuries, the requisite consolidation of actual power over the claimed imperial territory was already disintegrating at the time of those schisms. The Byzantine, like later “national” empires, was largely nothing but a figurehead in most of the regions it declared hegemony over, from the beginning.
While the Chinese dynasties of the Middle Kingdom are often viewed as if they were one continuous imperial line, and this view is encouraged by the xenophobic superiority complex that the Chinese possess in spades, the pattern of human experience, and even a passing familiarity with Chinese history, tells us that, with the possible—albeit exceedingly unlikely—exception of the prehistoric Xia (2070-1600 BCE) and Shang (1600-1046) dynasties, the history of Chinese dynasties in fact, belies the title empire, in large part due to the fractious tribal nature of the culture and the rampant warlordism that has defined most of its cultural history. Between “dynasties” like the Sui (581- 648 BCE) that lasted one lifetime, to eras like the “Three Kingdoms” (200-581 CE) that preceded the Sui, in which the Chinese were anything but one homogeneous political entity, China has rarely existed as an empire in the classical sense of the word, except with the last century, under the Communist regime.
What is noteworthy about empires, across the breadth and depth of the collective human experience, is the remarkable similarities in the duration of those empires. The human experience is subject to the vagaries of luck, environment, and fickle human whim, and cannot—despite the attempts of philosophers like Benedict de Spinoza (1632-1677), be calculated and foretold with mathematical formulas. Nevertheless, the remarkable similarities in the survival and life patterns of empires bears scrutiny, especially within the context of this work, considering the current life span of the American experiment at 226 years,8 and the similarities with the lives of previous imperial powers.
Observant Biblical scholars will notice that we’ve ignored the Babylonian Empire. This is because, despite Nebudchadnezzar’s infamy for his maltreatment of the Hebrews, as described in the Hebrew tribal chronicle of the Old Testament, that empire lasted less than a century before it was conquered by Cyrus of Persia, and never attained imperial power in anything but name. Like the Napoleonic Empire, it was more a cult of personality than an actual empire.
It is a prejudice common to every generation of humans to see itself as something special, set apart from history and the past. One of the defining traits of mankind seems to be the egoism of seeing himself as something very important, even indispensable, to the advancement of the world at large. The rapid advances made in technology over the last century has made that view all the more inviting to modern man.
In my four decades alone, we’ve seen the development of the personal computer, and the subsequent rapid miniaturization of technology, to the point that I can now access the entire record of accrued human knowledge, over the last 200,000 years, in the palm of my hand, on a “smart phone.” We’ve seen man achieve the self-perceived status of a god, through the successful achievement of genetic cloning in the laboratory. We’ve witnessed the realization of humans wielding the mythical thunderbolts of Zeus, in the form of successful, missile-armed, remote-controlled drone aircraft, in less than two decades. We’ve seen humans develop the ability to turn night into day, at the individual level, through the development of night-vision and thermal imaging devices. We’ve seen the fortunate creation of the science fiction fantasy of the Bionic Man, in the form of prosthetic limbs that mimic—and even surpass —the strength and agility of the missing limbs. Indeed, it is very enticing to view ourselves as separate from and superior to, history. This attitude that we have nothing to learn from history though, no matter how alluring the flattery may be, is fatally flawed. When we look back, objectively, the irrelevance of technological advancement to the lifespan of empire becomes self-evident.
The Assyrians marched to war on foot, and fought with archery tackle and spears. Their conquests were limited to those neighbors whose countries they could walk to—and maintain a supply and communication avenue to. Their only use of cavalry was the chariot, because they had not sufficiently mastered the equestrian arts to allow mounting and riding in combat conditions9. This severely curtailed the effective application of their “cavalry” however, since chariots were/are of limited use in rough terrain that a horseman can traverse with relative ease. The Assyrian Empire lasted 247 years.
Fast forward to 1700 CE. The British soldier of the Line, at the beginning of the British Imperial period, had the ability to strike with massed musket fire. He could strike his enemy with “thunder and lightning.” He could circumnavigate the globe aboard a sailing ship. His cavalry could ride circles around a charioteer, had anyone still been fighting from chariots. It’s fair to say that, in many ways, the Assyrians would have viewed the British soldier of 1700 like a god, or at least possessing some of the powers of a god. We can see a similar situation with the initial Mesoamerican response to the arrival of the Spanish in the Americas.
Leap forward through time in our phone box TARDIS time machine though, to the end of the British Imperial experience, in 1950 CE. Now, not only can the British soldier circumnavigate the globe on a ship that doesn’t even require the gods to provide favorable winds, he could actually fly through the air! He could strike with thunderbolts from the sky! On foot, he was armed with a “spear” that could fire twenty thunderbolts in seconds, and strike his enemies at three or four times the distance that the most powerful bows the Assyrians could have ever even heard of were capable of reaching!10 He could communicate instantly with someone hundreds, or even thousands, of miles away, with his own voice, through the use of radios. It is fair to say that, if the Assyrian might have seen the soldier of 1700 as something approaching a god, the British para or RAF pilot of 1950 would have been a god.
The British Empire lasted 250 years…
To even suggest the potential—let alone the inevitability—of the fall of American exceptionalism though, is to risk raising the ire of both Left and Right. To the progressive of the Left, seeking the support of the uneducated mob, labels such as “reactionary,” or even “racist,” seems to be the standard, as does the accusation of being “opposed to the egalitarian, democratic ideals” of America. The pseudo-patriotic neo-conservative Right, on the other hand, considers it seditious to proclaim anything less than total, unwavering, blind faith in the immortality and divine guidance of the government of the United States…at least as long as the Congress and Presidency are firmly in the hands of the Republican Party. They begin sounding as much like a bunch of spoiled children as their political rivals, throwing temper tantrums, with their fingers stuck in their ears, tongues out, and eyes clenched tightly shut, as they scream, “USA! USA! Divine inspiration! Jesus loves America! USA! USA!”
Both sides of this spectrum choose to ignore the fact that every other imperial power in the human experience has viewed its own existence as divinely inspired and immortal. We are no more the zenith of human social and political achievement that the Assyrians, the Romans, or the Muslim Caliphate were.
The Life Cycle of Empires
Outburst and Conquest
Glubb described the life cycle of empires in stages. When one looks at the parallels between the experiences of various major empires, these similarities become obvious. The first stage, Glubb labeled “The Outburst.” This is when a small nation or tribe, often viewed as culturally backwards by its more powerful neighbors, emerge suddenly from their small homeland and overrun significant portions of the Earth.
(In the book, this section is a sidenote:
In 600 CE, most of the western world fell within the sphere of influence of one of two major imperial powers: the remnants of the Roman Empire, in the form of the Byzantine, Eastern Roman Empire, and the Persians. For a modern parallel, think of the state of affairs that existed during the Cold War between the United States and the former Union of Socialist Soviet Republics (USSR). The Arab world, at this time consisted solely of a bunch of backwards goatherds, eking out survival on the Arabian peninsula, surrounded by those two imperial powers. Modern-day Iraq was part of the Persian Empire, while Syria, Palestine, and all of North Africa were Byzantine Roman provinces. The Arabs were nomadic tribesmen with no central government or army. They were a bunch of barbarian tribes. In 613, an Arab dude named Mohammed (570-632 CE) had a religious awakening, and began preaching about the supremacy of the old moon god, Allah. He died 19 years later, in 632 CE, having largely consolidated the different bands of Arabs under the banner of his new religion. In 633, the year after his death, the rest of the world learned of his legacy. The Mohammedan Arabs burst out of their desert lair, attacking both the Eastern Roman Empire and the Persians, simultaneously. Two decades later, the Persian Empire was a memory. By 700 CE—less than 70 years after the Arab outburst—their religious and political empire, known as the Caliphate, extended from the frontiers of China, all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. In another decade, they would conquer the Iberian Peninsula.
At the beginning of the 13th Century, there were a bunch of dirt-poor horse herders eking out a subsistence survival existence on the plains of Mongolia. In 1211, an outcast from one of their tribes who had renamed himself Genghis, brought the different bands of the Mongols together under one banner, and decided to invade China. Forty years later, the Mongols controlled the largest geographic empire the world has ever known, stretching from Asia Minor to the China Sea.
In 1607, a small band of English adventurers settled on the Atlantic seaboard of North America in a small community they named Jamestown. Almost starving as a result of crop failures their first year, they relied on the naivete and beneficence of the local indigenous population. 169 years later, the descendants of those colonists declared themselves a new nation, and within a century of that, had conquered not an ancient empire, but an entire continent, and had already begun to impose their will across the oceans. They didn’t get the luxury of conquering already built cities and agricultural areas. They had to chop down forests, quarry mountains, and forge the imperial civilization out of what was basically raw wilderness.)
Glubb makes the point that the outburst stage is characterized by the display of “extraordinary” energy and courage by people who are typically poor, but hardy, enterprising, and—most important— aggressive. Meanwhile they are generally—although, as in the case of America, not necessarily— fighting a decaying superpower in the decadence of decline. These new nations are not just notable for military successes however. They are adventurous and heroic in every field. The Arabs crossed the Straits of Gibralter in 711 CE with 12,000 men, slaughtered a Gothic army of double their size, and then marched 250 miles, across hostile country, to capture the capital at Toledo. At the same stage in British history, Crook had sailed far enough away from England to discover Australia. In the US, our ancestors were hacking places like Lexington, Kentucky out of hardwood forest, and building the world’s first transcontinental railroad.
The conquering pioneers of new empires are not held back by the constraints of traditional methods. They are willing to improvise, adapt, and overcome through experimentation. “Action is their solution to every problem.” Just like the pioneers of America, often half-starved, and ill-clad in whatever garb the environment will provide, they abound in courage, energy, and the initiative to go out and overcome anything that stands in the way of gaining what they want.
The reasons that these outbursts happen are difficult to determine, since they have been so varied. Glubb argued that the easiest explanation was simple jealousy. The poor and obscure nation simply coveted what their neighbors had. When Attila died in 453 CE, his people simply took their plunder from Europe and went home. Much of the barbarian tribal conquest of Western Europe, on the other hand, occurred because the local tribal chieftains admired the technology of Roman civilization and wanted to acquire that for their own people.
Underlying all of these however, I would argue, is religious fervor. From the monotheist drive to conquer and convert for The One True God, witnessed in the advance of the Caliphate, the British Empire, or American expansion, or the ancestral faith of the barbarians of Europe, and their need to strengthen the fortunes of the tribe, while the drive for wealth is always present, often there is a strong undercurrent of religious destiny involved as well.
The successful conquest of large areas, and the hegemony of control under one governing power acts as a stimulus to the merchants of the newly empowered tribe. The speed of modern transportation makes us think of “interstate” commerce as a new creation, but this is the ultimate in cultural hubris. Archaeological excavations indicate regular commercial exchange between far-flung cultures like the Middle East and Scandinavia, or China and Eastern Europe, dating back thousands of years. While obviously much slower to transport than a diesel-fueled ocean going cargo ship, or an intercontinental flight, commerce within ancient empires was freed of shackles that modern trade suffers, such as import permits, customs inspections, boycotts, and political interference.
Glubb uses the Roman Empire as an example. At its height, it extended from Syria to the Scottish border with England. In a direct line as the crow flies, that is almost 3000 miles. It might take six months to travel from England to Damascus, but throughout that journey, you would be in the same nation, with the same laws, currency, and form of governmental administration.
Even savage, militaristic empires have encouraged and promoted commerce and trade, both for the benefit of taxation, and because the leaders want nice things for themselves and their families. The Mongols were among the most brutal military conquerors in history. They put the entire population of some cities to the sword. But, in the thirteenth century, the trade caravans between China and Europe were the pinnacle of the concept of free-trade—the whole journey was in the territory of a single government. For free-trade advocates, seeking to be able to sell their produced goods to the largest market share, imperialism is a huge advantage, because it does away with, or at least reduces the disparity of various national laws, politics, customs fees and bribes, and currencies.
The Age of Conquest, that expansion of the military strength and resulting territorial control of the new power, overlaps the beginning of the Age of Commerce and the rise of mercantilism within the imperial culture. The pride in military strength still holds precedence, as does avid public support of the military standing guard on the frontiers and pushing the boundaries of the empire’s reach into new lands. At the same time though, the desire to make money, with considerably less risk of life and limb, begins to dominate the public imagination. While glory and honor were the principal objects during the warrior-centric phase of the imperial expansion, to the merchant those ideas are meaningless, since they do not add to his bank account.
Instead, those of a mercantile leaning look to ways to take advantage of the empire’s new wealth to grow wealthy themselves. The first portion of the mercantile age of the imperial life cycle actually tends to strengthen the empire. The founders’ virtues of enterprise, strength, courage, pride, and duty are still valued, and every effort is driven by the patriotism behind those virtues. This is the epoch within the empire when exploration occurs and new sources of wealth are sought out. Whether it’s a military leader conquering a new land to take advantage of its resources, a merchant leading a trading caravan into foreign lands to seek trade, prospectors and miners looking for mineral wealth, entrepreneurs building roads or railroads to transport goods and people, or families carving farms and ranches out of conquered wilderness, everyone is trying to leverage the wealth of the empire’s resources for their benefit, convinced—rightly so—that their efforts to grow wealthy are strengthening and enriching the empire. The drive for wealth, by any legal means, is seen as patriotism, and no one minds paying some taxes to help strengthen the empire.
Unfortunately, that same wealth, and the drive to amass more of it, is also the agent that creates the decline of the imperial culture. To begin with, decisions are no longer made by the warrior-statesmen that put their own blood and lives on the line to create the empire. Instead those decisions begin to be made by—and for the benefit of—a select class of wealthy merchants, bankers, and descendants of the conquering heroes of old. The quest for money begins to replace the quest for honor and adventure. Greed takes over. Men no longer seek to enrich their country and community, but just themselves and their families. Gradually this affluence crushes the spirit of patriotic duty in most of the population. The youth of all classes are no longer educated to live lives—and create career—that value honor and service, but instead, are taught to seek wealth.
Colleges and schools of higher education no longer focus on general civic education—what we would recognize as a general liberal arts education; how to think clearly. Instead, they focus on what the parents and students seek: simply meeting the requirements to obtain the job with the highest salary. The virtue of service is replaced with the virtue of selfishness.
It is popular in some circles to blame the troubles of our current situation on the self-interested manipulations of secret cabals of super-rich oligarchs who control the wealth—and thus the politics— of our nation and world. While this is undoubtedly true, and only a jackass would argue otherwise, it is also not any sort of novelty. Whether you are discussing Rockefellers, Carnegies, Gateses, Waltons, or others in our own time, or the Patrician class of ancient Rome, every empire has resulted in the creation of a class of super wealthy oligarchs who gathered enough wealth to their families that they could control the political decision-making cycle for their benefit and continued enrichment.
Conspiracy theories make it possible to believe, “if we could just get rid of ‘them,’ then everything would go back to ‘normal.’” The problem is not the existence of a patrician class of oligarchic aristocracy however. The problem is when the virtue of service is replaced with the virtue of selfishness, and both the oligarchs and the common man begin caring more about themselves than they do about their nation and their community. The problem is that the patricians—like the rest of society— lack the long-range vision necessary to recognize that what seems beneficial to them in the near-term, even though it might be detrimental to the rest of society, is also detrimental to them in the long-term. You can’t continue to make money off a society that no longer exists.
The problem is when the common man, hoping to benefit from government largesse, allows greedy, selfish men, susceptible to corruption, into positions within the government, where the patricians can afford to bribe them. The blame is not just on the oligarchs. It is on every man. The problem is greed, and during the mercantile phase of empire, greed is the virtue of the culture. Commercial interests continue to applaud consumerism as “patriotism,” even as they do everything in their power to avoid supporting the nation and their communities with taxes. The common man sees those around him apparently doing better than him financially, with all their material belongings and begins to believe in this new virtue. Now, he’d rather work long hours and extra days than spend time with his wife and children, teaching his children the values of their forefathers that made their nation great. His children thus learn, “working for the man in the big house on the hill is patriotism!” and “if you don’t go to the mall and go shopping, the terrorists win!”
The people, and thus the nation as a general whole, are no longer interested in honor and glory. Their only interest is in retaining their wealth and their luxury. Whether it’s China’s Great Wall, Roman emperor Hadrian’s Wall along the English-Scottish border, France’s Maginot Line during World War Two, or the proposed wall along the US border with Mexico, Arnold Toynbee, one of the greatest historians of the modern era, and author of the 12-volume masterpiece The Study of History , makes the very valid point in that work, that the moment when an empire decides that building walls to protect their wealth is a good idea is the moment you know that empire is done. The people are no longer willing to risk their wealth or the blood to continue to expand, content instead to just keep what they have.
Wealth, being more abundant than courage in the empire at its peak, during this Age of Affluence, money and material goods are used in an attempt to buy off enemies. After all, “if I or my sons go off to fight a war, we might die. Then we won’t be able to make any more money!” Who wants to die to make other people rich? Of course, admitting such a reason, even as they justify it as “patriotism,” while hearing or reading the tales of the heroism of their ancestors would lead one to feelings of cowardly inferiority. To avoid that, justifications are made, both individually and collectively at the social level. Militarism, violence, and imperialism are denounced as primitive, unfair, and immoral. Civilized people solve their problems with ideas and words, rather than with fists. Violence is never the answer!
The problem with this pacifist approach to the world of course, is that it’s utterly stupid. It is demonstrably false and ignorant of reality. There are many people in the world who are aggressive, and no amount of education as to the inherent superiority of the imperial culture is going to change their minds. You can’t convince them to like you by showing them how much better your life is than their’s and their family’s. They still value service to their family and their culture as more important than their own individual comfort.
We can see this ignorance in our own culture, of course. People are content to sit on the couch and watch other men fight their nation’s battles, even as they pontificate on convincing members of other cultures through material largess, of the superiority of western democracy and capitalism. They feel superior to the outsiders, even as these aggressive foreign cultures invade our lands and attack and rape our women. “Well, at least it isn’t happening to me!” In Glubb’s own words, “…history seems to indicate that great nations do not normally disarm from motives of conscience, but owing to the weakening of a sense of duty in the citizens, and the increase in selfishness and the desire for wealth and ease.”
The mercantile oligarchs of the Age of Commerce seek to gain the fame, praise, and immortal renown that their ancestors won through valor and achievement, by spreading a small fraction of their wealth. They create endowments for the arts, and they found or endow universities and colleges and scholarships. Like the criticisms of the secret cabals controlling the puppet strings of politicians, it is popular to denounce people like George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, the Walton family, and Bill and Melinda Gates, not so much for the endowments themselves, but for the ideological strings they seem to attach to those endowments. It is interesting however, when one notices the regularity with which this happens—in every empire, even centuries apart. It is also interesting how precise an indication this is of an empire in its final death throes.
In the eleventh century, the Caliphate was in complete decline. Its frontiers had been pushed back drastically, and it was no longer an empire of warriors, but of intellectual dilettantes. Under Sultan Malik Shah, the Arabs were the intellectual leaders of the world. These are the people who invented Algebra, after all. Building universities and colleges became the passion of the rich. A university appeared in seemingly every moderately-sized city.
In our own time, we see the same phenomenon in the US. At the height of our glory, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and a handful of other colleges seemed to meet our needs. State colleges focused on agricultural and mechanical/technical educations, and most people gained their education through some form of apprenticeship in their trade. Now, even a state like Idaho, with a population of just 1.6 million people, has at least fifteen different colleges and universities! These of course, are not counting professional licensing schools like hairstyling “schools,” nor interstate “universities” that teach via correspondence or online, like University of Phoenix.
It is important to point out, I feel, that while this rise of intellectualism is, as we will see shortly, the final harbinger of doom for the imperial power, almost all of the pursuits sought after with such fervor, throughout the life cycle of the empire, have the potential to be “good” by any objective metric. The cult of hardiness, courage, and truthfulnessof the Age of Conquest during The Outburst, produces heroes that we honor centuries later, even from other empires. The opening of natural resources and the peaceful accumulation of wealth during the mercantile phase, allows for the advancement of technology and the sciences during the Age of Intellect. We cannot label any of these as “good” or “bad” in themselves however. It is the application of them that matters, and ultimately, outside of religious and cultural prejudices, the definition of any of them as “good” or “bad” is entirely subjective.
What is noteworthy about these stages is that they follow the exact same course, one after another, across the imperial legacy of various human cultures, even across centuries and millenia. The argument of course could be made—and is, regularly—that something will make this time different. Unfortunately, that argument has also been made, every single time, and always with the exact same lack of result. What is noteworthy is the accuracy with which these stages can be seen to foretell the decline of every empire, including our own.
Harbingers of the Apocalypse
Internal Strife and Division
The first of the warning signs of the demise of empire that Glubb noted was an intensification of internal political divisions and hatreds. These are a result of the impact of the Ages of Affluence and Intellectualism, as people struggle to maintain their hold on their possessions and wealth and luxury. In the fourteenth century, the long weakened Byzantines were already dominated by the Turks of the rising power that would become known as the Ottoman Empire. When one would expect that every citizen of the Eastern Roman Empire would set aside his personal interests to stand shoulder-to- shoulder with his countrymen, out of self-interest if not patriotism, the opposite actually occurred. The Byzantines spent the last half-century of their cultural and imperial existence in an ongoing internecine civil war, right up until the Turks delivered the coup de grace that wiped the empire from the face of the Earth.
Today, as I write this, we see the same things happening in America. I watch both sides of the standard political spectrum spew absolute filth from their mouths to describe their countrymen, over differences in political opinion and interpretation that ultimately can always be followed back to the desire to keep or gain wealth and luxury. Even as we face internal and external threats—with the stated purpose of destroying our culture—we see even the moderate Left label those on the Right as terrorists and worse. Equally nefarious however, we see the True Believers of divine inspiration on the Right label their political rivals with accusations ranging from communist and socialist to the utterly ridiculous “satanic.” In an era when our nation faces threats from resurgent Russian imperialism, growing recognition by China of its own imperial needs, and a growing resurgence of Mohammedan expansionism that looks very much like the beginning of a successful New Caliphate, you would think that every thinking person, with any interest in saving America wold be coming together in a bipartisan effort to salvage what is left of the idea that was America. Instead, we seem to be more than willing to watch a re-run of the Fall of Byzantium.
There is a greater threat than just the external however, that actually increases the threat from outside. This results from the intensification of these internal political schisms within the declining imperial power, and is every bit a result of the virtue of selfishness created during the Age of Affluence. In the Roman Republic, a schism erupted within the Senate as two factions battled. The Optinates were the “conservative” party, striving to hold to traditional forms of Roman governance, while the Populares were the “progressive” party that stressed the importance of recognizing the growing strength and importance of the Plebeian Assembly of the common citizenry18. By the second century BCE, there was enough discord within both the Republic and the Senate to terminate centuries of essentially peaceful governance. We can see the same thing in the encouragement of class and racial divides, and the resulting angst and violence in our own society today.
Reforms that had taken place under Tiberius and Gaius as consuls looked to address the conditions of the disenfranchised, but much like similar reform attempts within our own government, the result was instead a growing animosity—and even outright enmity—between the Patrician and Plebeian “haves,” and the poorest Plebeian “have-nots.” By the end of the Punic Wars with Carthage (264-146 BCE), wealth had concentrated towards the more powerful of the Patrician clans within Rome, while middle-class citizen-soldiers found themselves landless, as their untended lands, laying fallow as they campaigned abroad for the “greater glory of Rome,” prevented their ability to repay creditors. Those lands, in most cases, were then bought from the creditors who has possessed them in lieu of repayment, by the more wealthy, oligarchic clans, who had kept their sons at home, rather than risking them on the battlefield. This created an even wider gap in power and wealth, favoring the Patricians. This small, wealthy, oligarchic class, recognizing the benefits they were accruing from the situation, and believing naively in the immortality of Rome, focused on their own greed, rather than on the security and welfare of the Republic, and strove to maintain the status quo.
The situation grew increasingly desperate, with more and more of the limited arable land tied up in the hands of a small number of well-moneyed families. By 107 BCE, Gaius Marius was appointed consul, and opposition to land reform was a given in the Senate. Despite this, Marius opted to reorganize the army, allowing—for the first time in Roman history—landless citizens to enlist, enticing them with promises of valuable land grants as a pension. This allowed him the manpower and the finances needed to develop it into a professional army, with standardized training and equipment suitable for waging the increasing number of extended campaigns required by the growing expansionist efforts of the empire. Land is, like so many other things, a non-renewable resource. As the cliché goes, one thing you can be certain of about land—they’re not making any more of it. In order to attain more of any limited, finite resource, the empire has to expand its reach and influence.
The problem with Marius’ effort was, because their pensions—their futures and the futures of their children—were tied to the conquered territories,the soldiers’ loyalties were tied to the generals that led them to victory and their new homelands, rather than the Republic and the Eternal City itself. The legions thus became essentially private armies of the generals, considering themselves not beholden to the citizens of Rome, but to their comrades and leaders. In fact, the view was that the citizens of Rome were beholden to them instead, because of the riches they sent back. Meanwhile, the citizens of Rome felt this arrogance were driven into the arms of rival factions within the Senate who wanted to curtail the power and influence of the generals. As the conflict grew within the Senatorial Patrician class and became open confrontation, this web of divided loyalties that was created was the trigger that initiated the coup that resulted in the final death knell of the Republic and the imposition of the dictatorial imperial government under Julius Caesar.
The parallels between ancient Rome and our own contemporary situation is not just the blindingly obvious schisms between conservative and progressive, Left and Right, and rich and poor. The veterans’ community, especially in the last decade, has come to pride itself on its separation and uniqueness from the general American population, pointing out pridefully that only 0.45% of the American populace has served in the GWOT, and only 12-15% of living Americans have served in the military at all. This meme is parroted repeatedly in social media and on both the Left and the Right, encouraging the schisms between the military/veterans’ community and the general public. Key figures in the “patriot” movement and even in the more mainstream “neo-conservative” Right call for military generals to oust the legally elected President. The military and veterans’ community, sadly too often completely unaware of the historical parallels, are themselves reinforcing the schisms with a self- imposed loyalty to their comrades and wartime leaders, before their loyalty to the nation and constitution. Even across social media, we see an increasingly serious campaign for “Mattis for President!” and calls for David Petraeus to run for the office, despite his recent legal troubles, as veterans of the recent campaigns demonstrate a very Roman loyalty to their generals first.
The Right encourages this by extolling the virtue and self-sacrifice of veterans—including the complete fabrication of the theme that 22 veterans of the GWOT commit suicide every day—all of whom, I feel obligated to point out, that are currently serving, not only volunteered, but volunteered in wartime no less, “fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession.” No one that I’ve ever met, who served in the military—including myself, I hasten to add—has ever volunteered to forfeit their salary out of patriotism.
The Left encourages the same schisms however, between veteran and public, by too often labeling veterans as war criminals and PTSD victims, trivializing their efforts for a cause—the expansion of American imperialism—that they were socially indoctrinated to believe in by the very educational system that the Left so ardently supports. The government itself, much like the Roman government, under the control of both sides of the oligarchic political class, pushes the schism even wider, encouraging veterans to feel abandoned and alone in society, denied the benefits they were contractually promised in return for their service.
The political divisions and vitriolic name-calling and insults are not what any sane man would want for his nation, but the oligarchs of the modern Patrician class—just like their Roman predecessors— encourage it, because they know it helps them consolidate their control and power, separating the potential power of the military from any real fraternity with the populace it is sworn to protect and defend. Further, by keeping the people themselves at each others’ throats over the encouraged perceptions of unfairness on both sides, there can be no unity among the American people to return to the natural equality under the law of our constitutional system. The oligarchs—again like their predecessors—do not recognize the parallels path of destruction they have put themselves, and all of our nation, on.
Multiculturalism is Collectivism
The second great harbinger of doom that Glubb described was the influx of foreigners into the capital cities and the political center of power. He cited complaints by Roman citizens of the vast numbers of Asians and Africans that had settled in Rome. Baghdad likewise, in its prime as the capital of the Caliphate during the ninth century, was as cosmopolitan as New York or London are today— Persians, Turks, Egyptians, Sub-Saharan Africans, and Greeks; all mingled with the indigenous population in the city’s cafes, coffee shops, and universities.
America is of course, the melting pot. We have long celebrated our assimilation of diverse ethnic origins into a harmonious, homogeneous, distinctly American culture. That has long been heralded as one of America’s greatest strengths. Today however, we see the metaphor of the melting pot, a term first coined in the 1780s, transformed into the contemptible, intentionally divisive celebration of multiculturalism.
The idea that we should celebrate the contributions of the individual cultures of different ethnic communities in the greater American culture is nothing new. As early as 1762, Irish soldiers serving in the British Army in New York staged a St. Patrick’s Day parade, and this ethnic/religious holiday honoring a saint of the Catholic Church, despite a Protestant, Anglo cultural majority, has been observed for all of American history. The difference of course, is that people who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day have done so for one day out of the year, sporting “Kiss Me! I’m Irish!” t-shirts, shamrock pins, and horrendous fake Irish accents, and then go back to being Americans the very next day. The idea that we should elevate the individual cultures of different ethnic communities in America above American culture in general, is actually antithetical to the conceptual metaphor of the melting pot. The original idea, that we may choose to appropriate some of the best cultural traits and traditions that different immigrants have brought with them from their native lands, and assimilate those into the homogeneous culture of America, worked well. The inherent divisiveness of trying to elevate the importance of outside cultural values and celebrations however, can be seen throughout American history. As new groups of immigrants came into this country, those who wanted to succeed outside of their urban ethnic bastions, otherwise referred to as “ghettos,” had to quickly shed themselves of as many markers of their native culture as possible, or face violent recriminations from nativists who
might be only one generation removed their own homelands.
There is nothing wrong with celebrating one’s ancestral culture, regardless of what that ancestral culture is. Doing so is, in fact, central to my personal belief system. The melting pot concept however, is central to the control of the empire. Looking at ethnic/tribal groups that have traditionally/historically refused to integrate actually illustrates this: gypsies/Rom, Orthodox Jews, Amish and Mennonite German Baptists, and others, have long existed within the imperial boundaries, as outsiders. This can only be allowed however, for small groups, and even those groups are generally persecuted in any empire but our own. Allowing everyone to maintain their tribal/ancestral culture means no one adopts the imperial culture, and results in a lack of loyalty to the state that the empire needs for patriotic service and sacrifice for the greater good of the empire.
The problem with post-modern multiculturalism however, is the elevation of one—or more than one —group’s ancestral cultural values over those of others, as well as over the homogeneity of American cultural values. We “celebrate diversity” even as it tears apart the very fabric of our culture. This divisiveness is the undoing of the unified culture that allowed the empire to grow to greatness. It is not a matter of the inferiority of one culture or another. Rather, it is that the differences between them, if not buffered by the acceptance and elevation of shared cultural values through the homogeneity of the imperial culture, or—in a more ideal world—the equal protection under the law, of all different cultural groups, leads to the impossibility of peaceful coexistence.
Historically, we’ve seen immigrants, during the affluent periods of an empire’s existence, who felt— and expressed—great pride in becoming imperial citizens. Even Mohammedans in America, during the peak of American imperial power in the 1940s and 1950s, were proud to be Americans and part of The Great Experiment. No one is more patriotic, or fervent in their support of the empire, than the immigrant who found success and fortune in his new homeland. When decline sets in and reaches a state that can no longer be ignored though, the memories of every slight—real or imagined—is suddenly recalled by those who have held on to the vestiges of their ancestral cultures, instead of integrating successfully and totally into the imperial culture. While the empire is affluent, and there is money to be made, all the diverse cultures seem to be equally loyal and filled with patriotic fervor. As soon as the decline begins to steepen however, and wealth and luxury begin to become harder to find and hold on to, because it is consolidated in fewer and fewer hands, and the rungs of the ladder are harder—if not impossible—to scale, ethnic enclaves begin reforming, in the form of self-segregating communities, and tribalism naturally finds a resurgence in a reversion to the naturally xenophobic state of mankind, within the borders of the empire, as people focus on looking out for their own.
We see this occurring before our eyes, in America today. Even a mere 46 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, we see a deepening, voluntary resegregation of American society, as black Americans separate into their own neighborhoods and ghettos, and strive to create and recognize a specific, separate, black American culture within the larger American culture.
We can see the same things happening among other ethnic groups and national ancestral groups as well though. Within the Asian communities in America, the Chinese have always, to some degree, segregated themselves, with the establishment of Chinatowns in larger urban areas. We also see Laotian, Hmong, Korean, and—to a far lesser extent—Japanese ethnic enclaves beginning to form as well though.
Among Hispanics, we can see Salvadorans, Mexicans, Guatemalans, and other Latino immigrants— both legal and illegal—segregating themselves, not only from the greater American culture, but from other Hispanic ethnic cultural groups, putting the lie to the racialist idea of “Brown Pride” as a pan- Hispanic political movement. One example of this can be seen in the resurgence of interest among Americans of Mexican descent, in returning the southwestern states to Mexico, with the rise of the Azatlan movement and the Reconquista. The best example of this in recent memory though, may actually be an interview with a young American soldier serving in Afghanistan. When asked by a reporter why he performed an action that the reporter felt was particularly courageous, the soldier responded with, “Because I’m a Mexi-CAN, not a Mexi-CAN’T!” This was a US citizen, serving in the Army of the United States of America…
We see Mohammedan immigrants separating themselves not only into religious enclaves, but specific ethnic religious enclaves. Mohammedan religious groups and leaders try to establish the legitimacy of Shariah law in their communities, as superseding American constitutional law and jurisprudence. This fracturing of the imperial social culture into tribal societies is one of the most critical of Sir John’s markers. It is—both figuratively and literally—the incursion of the barbarians into the very borders of the empire. It is also one of history’s great indicators that an empire is past the point of salvation.
(Again, the following is a sidenote in the book:
While most of the few Americans with any knowledge of historical affairs preceding 1774 think of the sack of Rome by the Germanic Visigoths under Alaric in 410 CE as the “Fall of Rome,” too few recognize that it was actually Caesar Augustus (63 BCE-14 CE) that first brought in large numbers of Germanic warrior tribesmen to serve as his imperial bodyguards, because he did not trust Roman legionnaires to do the job. Although he shunted them off to lesser, more remote postings following Arminius of the Cherusci’s destruction of a 20,000 man Roman Army at the Teutoburg Forest in 9 CE, he quickly reverted to the practice, and his successors followed suit. Additionally, even by the time his predecessor and uncle Julius Caesar (100-44 BCE), famously crossed the Rubicon and took control of Rome by force of arms, a significant portion of the Roman Army was comprised of foreign-born troops with—at best—questionable loyalty to the Eternal City.)
To reiterate an important point however, this is not about race and pigmentation of skin. It is not about the inherent superiority or inferiority of one racial group or ethnicity over another. It is about cultural hegemony within the imperial culture—in this case, what we define as “western culture.” These foreign cultures may not be inferior. In fact, in their natural environment, and for their native people, they can be said to be superior, or they would not have survived and thrived as they did. They are certainly different though, and that difference, within the borders of the empire, leads to the schism in the homogeneity of the national culture—if the outsiders refuse to assimilate—that means the empire cannot maintain its hegemony over even its own populace.
Games Are For Children
The third indicator of cultural decline is the rise of what Sir John referred to as “frivolity.” This is seen as the companion to the pessimism that accompanies the unconscious dawning realization of the end of affluence. “Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die!” is the classic Roman example cited by Glubb. The Roman mob insisted on their panem et circenses, even as their world collapsed around them.
The parallels between gladiatorial games, violent chariot races, and other entertainment spectacles, to the contemporary American fascination with watching—rather than participating—in professional sports, blockbuster movies, and five hundred channels of satellite television programming, need not be explicitly pointed out to any thinking reader. We see the youth—and even most so-called “adults”—of America today proclaim their adoration for celebrity singers, actors, and other performers, hanging on their every word and action, no matter how ridiculous, rather than the cultural icons of the American Outburst. They would rather emulate some ridiculous “twerking” than the actions of the heroes that made America great; men like George Washington, Francis Marion, Daniel Boone, Simon Kenton, Thomas Edison, and more are instead, castigated as “dead white men” who were probably “murdering rapists and racists.”
We see people that are considered “mature”adults culturally, basing their entire political world view on the public statements of entertainers, many of whom never even managed to finish high school, rather than making the effort to educate themselves to understand the political system they live under,and who refuse to use basic critical thinking skills to determine what their own beliefs are on matters. It’s easier to simply re-post the illiterate memes of social media as “political statements.” We have, it seems, been convinced that being fashionable is more important than being intelligent. We have been convinced to ignore and forget our cultural mythic ancestry, in favor of the popular fashion entertainment of the moment. The capitalist-collectivist idea of course, is that in three months, there will be another “new and improved” cultural idol we “simply must” follow the antics of. The socialist- collectivist idea, on the other hand, is that, since “everyone is of equal value,” then the message of the famous celebrity, who spouts the same nonsense as their side of the political equation—no matter how ridiculously assinine it may be—is obviously valid, regardless of their lack of qualification to even open their mouth on the subject.
The fourth indicator of decline is the rise of the fervent belief in the inherent superiority of the culture, above all cultures that have ever existed before in the human experience. This includes a belief in the divine inspiration and favor of the gods towards the imperial culture, that will allow the culture to last for the rest of time, regardless of the historical indicators otherwise. Rome famously billed itself as the “Eternal City.” The Caliphs of Baghdad believed that Allah had appointed them to rule magnanimously over all of mankind until the Judgment Day. At the beginning of the 20th century, any Englishman, of any age, would proudly declare with absolute certainty, “Britannia forever!”
Today, even as more and more Americans turn away from religion in general24, and especially divine inspiration as the result of divine inspiration as the reason behind the constitutional republican system, the idea of some sort of inherent superiority as a result of our progressive advancement over previous cultures, combined with our ability to develop new technologies, has led to the idea that progress is automatic, requiring no effort to maintain, other than blind faith in the inherent superiority of our liberalism. It is completely unfathomable to Americans that the world could exist without America. We see again, the eternal conceit of every generation of man, that they are somehow so indispensable that they are, somehow outside of and immune to, history.
We have been engaged, for well over a decade, in a half-hearted “war” effort to bring American “democracy” to failed states in parts of the world that have zero experience in representative government, since the dawn of time, and have evinced no real indication of any interest in it25. We pour scorn on any petty tyrant who refuses to embrace the idealism of our defaced, commercialized rendition of republican representative governance, no matter how well his rule has served his people, in their own minds. At least, we scorn them when we don’t come right out and depose the poor, misguided bastards for not conforming to our own definitions of good and evil.
We sit, secure in our programmed, juvenile obedience, ignoring the realities of the world around us, blindly accepting the gospel that “America is eternal so quit worrying and keep spending!” We accept —even clamor for—the message of fairy tale solutions to the problems that we are forced to acknowledge. Americans are optimists, after all. We are patriots, and we want to believe in the inherent, divine righteousness of our constitutional system. We want to believe that, if we could just get “our guy” into office, then things will change for the better. In our optimistic, blind patriotism, we strive to continue believing in the rule-of-law and egalitarian justice, even as we watch them trampled and destroyed before our eyes.
This is ironic to the objective historian, because the life expectancy of an empire bears absolutely zero apparent relationship to the form of government instituted. The Roman Republic lasted the same two and a half centuries that the dictatorial Empire did. While the House of Windsor still “rules” England, the “divine right of kings” did nothing to stop the loss of their empire. Previous empires in the human experience illustrate almost every possible imaginable variation of political system, and still, each of them experienced the same life cycle and patterns of decay. Yet, somehow, magically, we alone are immune?
We—America—have become Rome, as the city burned. Do not think, for even a moment, that the citizens of Rome did not feel the same righteous loyalty towards their empire, even as Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon26 and overthrew the Republic, taking on the mantle of dictator. Like modern Americans, the people of Rome viewed their culture as the zenith of social, legal, and political development in the human experience. Even as the legions stood on the frontiers, and looked homeward over their shoulders, watching the destruction of the empire they represented from internal discord, this proto-patriotism existed. No one thought Rome could fail, let alone that it would.
Moral Degeneracy and the Religious Revival
Directly tied to the idea of the immortality of empire, due to divine guidance, is the fifth indicator in Glubb’s thesis, the rise of moral degeneracy and a subsequent religious revival. This is a popular aspect of the thesis among some evangelical Christians today who are students of preparedness. All too often however, in their attempt to make political headway, or perhaps—to be generous—out of pure cognitive bias, this indicator is often horribly misrepresented. One obviously evangelical Christian summary of The Fate of Empires, hosted on the website of the United Church of God, states the following:
“Glubb describes developments like these: 1. Rampant sexual immorality, an aversion to marriage in favor of ‘living together,’ and an increased divorce rate all combine to undermine family stability.”
Unfortunately for the credibility of the author of the article, and the United Church of God for hosting it, obviously none of whom actually read Glubb’s essay—or they simply assumed none of their readers would ever bother reading it—Glubb said absolutely nothing of the sort. He said nothing at all about sex, marriage, or divorce in this context.
In fact, despite presumably being a Christian himself, Glubb’s words on the subject had absolutely nothing to do with Christianity or “Christian values.” His actual words however, included:
“Historians of periods of decadence often refer to a decline of religion, but if we extend our investigation over a period covering the Assyrians (859-612 BCE) to our own times, we have to interpret religion in a broad sense. Some such definition as ‘the feeling that there is something, some invisible Power, apart from material objects, which controls life and the natural world.’ We are probably too narrow and contemptuous in our interpretation of idol worship. The people of ancient civilizations were as sensible as we are, and would scarcely have been so foolish as to worship sticks and stones fashioned by their own hands. The idol was for them merely a symbol, and represented an unknown, spiritual reality, which controlled the lives of men and demanded human obedience to its moral precepts.
“We all know only too well that minor differences in the human visualization of this Spirit frequently became the ostensible reason for human wars, in which both sides claimed to be fighting for the true God, but the absurd narrowness of human conceptions should not blind us to the fact that, very often, both sides believed their campaigns to have a moral background. Genghis Khan, one of the most brutal of all conquerors, claimed that God had delegated him the duty to exterminate the decadent races of the civilized world. Thus the Age of Conquests often had some kind of religious atmosphere, which implied heroic self-sacrifice for the cause.
“But this spirit of dedication was slowly eroded in the Age of Commerce by the action of money. People make money for themselves, not for their country. Thus periods of affluence gradually dissolved the spirit of service, which had caused the rise of the imperial races. In due course, selfishness permeated the community, the coherence of which was weakened until disintegration was threatened. Then, as we have seen, came the period of pessimism with the accompanying spirit of frivolity and sensual indulgence, by-products of despair. It was inevitable at such times that men would look back yearningly to the days of ‘religion,’ when the spirit of self-sacrifice was still strong enough to make men ready to give and to serve, rather than to snatch.
“But while despair might permeate the greater part of the nation, others achieved a new realisation of the fact that only readiness for self-sacrifice could enable a community to survive. Some of the greatest saints in history lived in times of national decadence, raising the banner of duty and service against the flood of depravity and despair.
“In this manner, at the height of vice and frivolity the seeds of religious revival are quietly sown. After, perhaps, several generations (or even centuries) of suffering, the impoverished nation has been purged of its selfishness and its love of money, religion regains its sway and a new era sets in.”
At no point in his essay, particularly under the heading of religion, did Sir John say anything at all about “an aversion to marriage,” or “an increased divorce rate.” He wrote nothing at all about undermining “family stability,” or in fact, anything related to any particular religious creed. These are projections by others who lack Glubb’s ability to step outside their own world view and look at the author’s writing objectively. The underlying theme of this portion of Sir John’s essay is actually almost completely contrary to the spirit of evangelical propaganda in the UCG article, especially considering his comments about “…we all know only too well, that minor differences in human visualization of this Spirit frequently become the reason for human wars, in which both sides claim to be fighting for the true God, but the absurd narrowness of human conception should not blind us to the fact that, very often, both sides believed the conflict to have a moral background…”
The moral of looking at “religious decline” as an indicator of the decline of empire, in Glubb’s thesis, has nothing to do with the morality of a particular religion’s morality, or even with a particular god. Instead, it refers to a morality that has been common across cultures, throughout the collective human experience, regardless of epoch or declared religious beliefs. The morality in question is one that arises in the early epochs of empire, during the Age of Conquest. This is a morality of heroic self- sacrifice for the benefit of the tribe. This is eroded during the mercantile phase of empire, as the quest for individual gain and profit take precedence over the spirit of community that allowed the tribe to gain dominance over its rivals and decadent predecessors. The simple fact is, as Glubb stated, “people make money for themselves, not for their country,” regardless of labeling it “patriotic.” He defined the erosion of religious fervor as a decline in the moral supremacy of the spirit of service, and a rise in the spirit of selfishness.
This selfishness eventually pervades the community, weakening the fabric of society by destroying the bonds of mutual self-sacrifice and sense of community, until total disintegration threatens. During this time of despair, “…it is inevitable that men should look back yearningly to the days of ‘religion,’ when the spirit of self-sacrifice was still strong enough to make men ready to give and to serve, rather than to snatch.” It is out of the reawakened yearning for some “ol’ time religion,” and a morality of community service, that the seeds of a ‘religious’ revival are sown, Sir John argued. Unfortunately, as we can see in the excerpts above from the UCG article, too often, people with a vested interest other than the good of the community are more than willing to twist that yearning to fit their own goals and agendas, doing nothing of real substance to remedy the problem.
In America today, even as the more militant evangelical Christian element within the body politic seeks a “return” of the “ol’ time religion” of their particular brand of fervent Protestantism, and a theocracy based on Biblical Law that—too often—they apparently don’t even understand, despite their professed support for the “natural, God-given right” of “freedom of conscience,” we are actually seeing a resurgence of the type of ‘religious’ revival that Glubb was actually referring to; that is, a resurgence in the longing for—and actual action towards fulfilling that longing—a sense of real community, even as the mercantilist factions of our society continue to push the capitalist-collectivist meme of “the rugged individualist” to keep people focused on wealth and luxury instead.
Americans have begun—in ever increasing numbers—to recognize the concerted efforts being made against them to weaken their communities, their families, their spirits, and their bodies, in the imperial grasp to maintain hegemony. More and more people are beginning to recognize that the “bread and circuses” they are being offered are intended to fatten them into the docility of sheep, rather than allowing them to act on their recognition that “shit just ain’t right!”
The commercialized and politicized push for multiculturalism and globalization are really nothing more than the destruction of ethnic historical cultures, in order to replace them, not with the homogeneous American culture, but with a “one-world, one (consumer) culture.” It is a synthetic religion of the marketplace, where people are expected to worship whomever or whatever the celebrities and politicians tell them they should like this week. Money and material gain have become the primary aim of society, with family, children, and service to the community of kith and kin, becoming nothing more than burdens that interfere with that self-indulgence.
Like Plato, Marx, and Engels, the imperial class today views family, motherhood, and traditional gender roles to be as much a hindrance to the imperial global economy as they consider nation-state borders a barrier to world trade. In 1884, with the publication of The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State, Friedrich Engels argued—inaccurately—that in man’s barbarian, preliterate past, there had been no difference in gender roles. This is as nonsensical—and science proves it daily— as the rest of his socialist nonsense was.
Since the beginning of human evolutionary development, the sexes have had distinct roles. Men were the providers and women stayed home and took care of the household. This contributed both to family stability, and the survival of the culture. Civilization during the Age of Conquest, is built as much on the ability of the conquering culture to breed new generations of soldiers as it is solely on the might of the sword arm. In the American experience—mirroring that of its parental British Empire— the necessity to replace the recalcitrant, indigenous “barbarian” tribes with colonizing families was equally important. When the first explorers, fur trappers/traders, and soldiers arrived on scene, the Indians managed to maintain control of their territories, even if they lost some—or most—fights. Many of those first adventurers even ended up marrying into the indigenous tribes and adopting their culture. It wasn’t until settlers began showing up—with women and children in tow—that the expansion of the imperial culture was brought to bear.
It is during the mercantile Age of Commerce of the empire, following the consolidation of the Age of Conquest, that the power brokers of the imperial oligarchy begin realizing the importance of breaking down family loyalties and replacing them with a primary loyalty to the State. In ancient Rome this started with the lionization of pleasure: from orgies and accepted infidelity and pederasty, anything that weakened the fiber of the fabric of family—destroying the natural bonds between father, mother, and children—was encouraged. Following Christianization, the State used the Scriptural admonition of Luke 14:25-26, “And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, if any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yeah, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple,” to encourage the same thing, through the medium of the State Church.
In our own time, we see the drive to bring both parents into the workforce, “liberating” women from the traditional bonds of home and child-rearing. By doing so, they double the potential workforce, allowing wages to be driven downward through competitiveness, even as the advertising market pushes parents to “spend, spend, spend” to replace the nurturing and caring of an absentee mother with material goods. We see commercial television encouraging it, by showcasing programming that features youth rebelling successfully against their parents with rewarding outcomes.
The children find themselves shuttled off to preschools, grade schools, and secondary schools, where they spend 13+ years of the most formative portion of their development being indoctrinated into a collectivist, commercialized culture of materialism, without ever really having the opportunity to know their parents as anything beyond “the people who gave me stuff.” They are locked into artificial restraints of age-peer groups, and conditioned via Pavlovian techniques and fear, to blindly obey the commands and decrees of strangers, lest they incur the penalties of detentions, expulsions, or bad marks on their “permanent records!”
Fortunately, more and more people seem to be experiencing Glubb’s ‘religious’ reawakening. We see this in the growing popularity of the ancestral health movement, despite the vehement protests of industry-financed “scientists” extolling the importance of genetically-modified organisms (GMO) and the monopolization and industrialization of modern agriculture. We see young families from mainstream, WASP America, willing to bypass the budgetary convenience of the global supermarket chains like Wal-Mart’s SuperCenters, preferring instead to search out and purchase—even at greater expense that negatively impacts their ability to collect more of the “stuff” that society tells them they should want—locally grown organic meats and vegetables produced on small-scale, sustainable family farms. Suburban, white-bread, minivan-driving soccer moms are recognizing that at least three generations of Americans have been weakened, physically, mentally, and spiritually, through the contribution of processed, industrialized “foods” that offered no real benefit, instead simply weakening and fattening them, keeping them pliant and ready for the economic fleecing and slaughter by their betters.
These typical, normal Americans—from all walks of life and all classes of society—are leaping, wholeheartedly, into the struggle to seek a healthier, more natural way of life in an attempt to return strength and vigor to their families, even as they move away from the conditioned urge towards profligate spending on meaningless, commercialized “stuff.” People are waking up to the weakening of their physical and mental health, and the health of their communities, through the intentional dulling of their natural physical competitiveness—the very spirit that ensured the survival of their ancestors and the growth of the American empire—by replacing their natural physical vigor that were hereditary gifts of their ancestors, with the artifice of the “ethic” of supporting “my team” of overpaid performing clowns in professional sports.
They have embraced fitness and competition, even in the often criticized “Sport of Fitness,” as Crossfit bills itself. For all the negativity that so many heap onto the ancestral health movement in general, and Crossfit specifically, it should be apparent that they are revolutionary, in the literal, political sense of the word as a “turning back.” The entire ancestral health movement has long since passed the stage of development that would allow it to be accurately dismissed as a mere fad. The oligarchic class certainly recognizes it, and we can witness that recognition in their attempts to subvert it. From the availability of organic produce and grass-fed beef at Wal-Mart, to the purchase of the Crossfit brand by sports apparel giant Reebok, and the arrival of “natural foods” supermarket chains like Whole Foods Market and Natural Grocers, the mercantile class is not only trying to subvert the ancestral health movement, they are trying to do so by leveraging it for their own financial benefit.
These are ‘religious’ revivals in the sense of religion that Glubb was referring to. The word religion is derived from the Latin word religere, meaning “to reconnect.” These “religions” are attempts by people to reconnect with their cultural past, that they intuitively recognize as more resilient than the falling facades of the decadence of declining imperial grandeur. They restore a sense of community and tribal connections in people. Look at the proclivity of outsiders to label Crossfit and the Paleo/Primal diets as “cultish” for example. Even many of the most avid Crossfit athletes I know refer to the other members of their “boxes” as “family” and “tribe.” These religions reflect the reborn yearning for “ol’ time religion” not in the sense of worshiping a particular deity, but in the seeking of traditional values of family and community identity. These are movements that actively encourage the intentional reconstruction of community, by encouraging the participation of the whole family.
None of this however, should be taken as an insult to religion as it is generally recognized—worship and veneration of a particular deity or a group of deities. Religion—genuine religion, in the sense of a reconnection to something greater than the self—is a critical part of surviving the decline we’re experiencing, as Glubb noted in the excerpt above, and as we will discuss in greater detail later in this work. There are churches that offer this, and it is my firm conviction that, for believers, those churches and the community they provide will form an important bridge for connection.
The final indicator of imperial decline that Sir John discussed was the rise of the welfare state. He explained that the decline of empire is often brought on during the period of decadence, when the people—comfortable in their own wealth, and smug in their inherent superiority over the rest of mankind—feel an urge towards philanthropy, and sympathy towards the “less fortunate.” This was expressed during the colonial periods of European empire as the “white man’s burden.” The Christian nations of Europe accepted their duty as a result of their “inherent superior values as civilized peoples,” to go forth and not only subdue the barbarians of the world for economic exploitation, but to convert them to the True Faith of Civilization, that peace might reign on Earth…how’d that work out?
This impression of eternal superiority due to divine favor, and a belief in the never ceasing increase in wealth, thanks to the beneficence of technology, leads the people of the climactic empire to lavishly spread its wealth on all those unfortunate souls so unlucky as to have not been born the natural inheritors of the inherent superiority conferred by natural-born citizenship—whether those unfortunate souls recognized their misfortune or not. On the domestic front, this is characterized by the obscene largess of the political patricians giving away other people’s money to buy votes—while conveniently, keeping their own positions of wealthy control—while on the foreign front, it is most often characterized either through foreign aid to hostile regimes, or wars of intervention to overthrow local governments, in the interest of spreading the control of imperial hegemony—in the modern, American
lexicon, “spreading democracy” is “the white man’s burden.”
The Left views this absurdly suicidal benevolence towards others as a moral imperative, to balance the “unfair” blessings bestowed on our inherently superior American culture by Progress. The opposition on the Right meanwhile, views the same benevolence as either a “Christian Duty,” to spread the profit of Faith or as a form of capitalist charity, to bring the blessings of commercialized, material culture to the unwashed heathens, in order to get them to spend money to make corporations richer.
Ironically, the Mohammedan Caliphate was even more generous with other people’s money than the modern American government. By the ninth-century, the ruling, pure-bred Arab class had become outnumbered by the very cosmopolitan population of the empire. State assistance however was still very generous to both the young and the poor. University students were given government grants to fund their very extravagant lifestyles, while they partied their way through their studies. The coffee houses of Baghdad were open forums for collegial debates, much like Starbucks has become in our own epoch. The poor received medical care from tax-funded “free” hospitals that the government built and funded, from Spain to what is now Pakistan. It was their “Islamic Duty,” as servants of Allah, for the Mohammedans to demonstrate the beneficence of the blessings of Allah to their less fortunate neighbors and countrymen.
The same welfare state culture exists in America today, except we’ve taken it one giant leap further, and actually fund the very enemies of our empire as we send unimaginably vast amounts of money, food, and even military equipment, to the very countries—full of poor, hungry, marginalized, and aggressive barbarians, chomping at the bit to wreak havoc and take over—that call for our destruction.
There is an important distinction that has to be made of course, between imposition of the welfare state, and the spirit of service to the community. The pioneering, conquering spirit of service to the community is not about handing shit out for free to others in your community and nation. It’s about creating opportunities for them to advance themselves, through their own efforts. Certainly, a short- term helping hand can be seen in the pioneering age of every great culture. That is not the same thing as providing a subsidized living for the lazy and stupid.
The End Of The World As We Know It
There is a growing recognition at a visceral level, that “shit just ain’t right.” At both a conscious and unconscious level, people are beginning to awaken to the fact that the current situation is simply unsustainable. From the social phenomenon of zombie culture to the increasingly mainstream popularity of dystopian fiction adventures like the Hunger Games and Divergent series of books and their spin-off movies for young adults, we can see the recognition occurring in even the most childish acolytes of both progressivism and nationalism, that “shit just ain’t right.” Even within the oligarchic reaches of the Patrician classes of our own society, there is recognition of this. These blockbuster novels and the film adaptations are not being produced to encourage the overthrow of the system. Rather, they are the same panem et circenses as professional sports—a pressure-relief outlet for the growing feelings of anger and disenfranchisement, via vicarious rebellion.
We can recognize intellectually, the occurrence of the common indicators of imperial decline that
parallel events in historical imperial cultures. All of the signs indicate that the American Empire is dying. We can feel to the depths of our marrow, in the growing disquiet and unease that are ever more apparent in the social discourse, that “shit ain’t right.” The question that must sensibly arise then, is “so what?” Not in the frivolous sense of “who gives a shit?” That answer is self-evident. I care, or I would not be writing this. You care, or you would not be reading it. Others care, or the discussion would not be arising with increasing frequency in every venue.
No, the question that arises is, “so, what….can we do to remedy the situation?” The short answer, of course, is “not a fucking thing.” The decline into decay is so far along that any attempt to return to “America” would require methods that would result in a very different “America” than any of us would care to experience. That’s what happened when Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon and the Roman Republic became a dictatorial empire overnight.
I suppose, if it fits your belief system, you could pray for a return of divine favor and intervention. I would hasten to point out—again—however, that every great culture has resorted to attempts— sometimes absolutely horrific attempts by our moral standards, to propitiate the gods, as they recognized that their culture was dying. Even if you believe their failure was because of a lack of belief in your “One, True God,” I would hasten to remind your that both the Roman Empire and the British Empire were Christian empires. I can guarantee you, as the decline of their empire became self-evident, a huge percentage of good, god-fearing Christian housewives of Britannia prayed fervently for a divine reversal of fortune, to no avail. It’s a given that the faithful of the Caliphate made their five daily prayers, hoping for some sort of emergency intercession from Allah. The Caliphate still found itself tossed so far back into savage darkness that it’s just now recognizing its ability to spread aggressively again. Do you want to wait a millenium for America to be resurgent? Perhaps, rather than looking for divine intercession, we should be looking for more proactive solutions.
It is interesting that, in The Fate of Empires, Glubb hastens to point out that the decadence that signals the collapse of culture is a decadence of the civilization, and not necessarily of the individual citizenry. The character and vigor of the society is corrupted and softened by the comfort of its riches. The people—as a culture—become selfish, lazy, and idle; a community of selfishness necessarily falls into a cultural state of indolence and apathy about anything except the division of the rapidly diminishing available wealth. The people become far more concerned about increasing—or at least maintaining—their individual material wealth and comfortable luxury than they are in recognizing, let alone displaying, the ardor that their ancestors displayed in building an empire through the strength of blood and iron. Within this torpor of moral and physical vigor however, there is no way for the people to redirect their thoughts and energies. There are exceptions though. In Rome, a school of philosophy arose called Stoicism, that recognized this weakening and sought, within its adherents, to reverse those trends by encouraging them to not become overly focused on the luxuries.
When individual members—or small groups of individuals, such as families or companies of companions—of the declining culture emigrate however, and find themselves in new surroundings, where the material luxuries are not as readily accessible, they do not remain discernibly dissolute. Once they have separated themselves from the depravity of their native culture, and have endured a short period of integration into the new ways of thinking mandated by their new surroundings, they discover —from the necessity of sheer human survival instinct—a renewed vigor and thirst for the necessary virtues of community service, energy, hardiness, and other pioneering virtues.
The decline into decadence then, Glubb argues, does not necessarily undermine the inherent cultural character of its members, despite the common complaint among seemingly every generation as it ages that, “today’s kids are useless.” He posits that, transported out of the decadence of their old environment, they soon discard the corruption of laziness, and prove their worth as the equals of their ancestors.
There is further hope in Sir John’s conclusions that the degeneration of decadence is not physical. While the citizens of an empire are often criticized by internal critics as being too physically emasculated to bear real hardship or endure great efforts, the reality seems to be that any emasculation is simply a moral and spiritual shortcoming. The citizens of Rome, when compared the Celto-Germanic hordes, being one of the exceptions that proves the rules—sort of—typically, Glubb points out, the citizens of the empire are actually of a larger physical stature than the enemies at the gate.
While this is obvious in the fleshy corpulence of modern America, Glubb specifically cited the experiences of the British Army in World War One, when young men of the gentry, raised in the luxury of late imperial wealth, found little difficulty in accommodating themselves to life in the trenches39. Men who were accustomed to easy, comfortable living in the parlors of modern homes in England managed to display a hardiness and endurance to equal the natives in riding camels across the deserts of Arabia. If ever a milquetoast product of decadence made good as a man of action, it was T.E. Lawrence of Arabia. Of course, looking back at my previous comment about the corpulence of Americans, we can see—some of us were—the self-indulgent youth of post-modern American imperial decline, go on and rebuild themselves into the physical and mental image of the mythic heroes of epic history, and achieve astounding feats in combat.
Therein lies the answer to “so, what?” The masses of the Plebeian class may sit idly by, comfortable in their decadence, blindly hoping for a postponement of the inevitable, satisfied—even as the world burns around them—the the reassurance of their Patrician leaders that “Progress will never cease!” and/or “We’re protected by the blessing of Almighty God!” As people awaken to the visceral reality of the crumbling infrastructure of empire however, more and more people are beginning to feel obligated to act towards the preservation of their traditional customs and values. Any person who values their family, and is unwilling to see their family destroyed on the altar of the invasion of alien, foreign cultural values overtaking our way of life, bears the burden of releasing themselves from the comfortable fantasy that ignorance equals avoidance. They must take up the yoke of the hero. We cannot place the fate of our futures, or the futures of our children and grandchildren, or the legacies of their pasts, in the hands of some ephemeral, fantastic “hope.” We must grab the opportunity presented by the decline of decadent imperial culture and the degeneration of the individual, and “emigrate’ outside the decadence of the collapsing culture, to either rebuild the culture, or—more valuable—to build a new culture that enshrines the best of the old, while being more resilient. The barriers that present themselves are fear and ignorance, but those are walls that are easily scaled and breached.
We did not have any more open-enrollment courses for the rest of the year, but we’ve had a pretty last-minute opportunity come up in NE Missouri, in the vicinity of Hannibal, MO. We will be teaching a three-day Clandestine Carry Pistol course, followed by our two-day TC3 course. The days/dates for these classes are:
FRI-SUN 21/22/23 OCT for Clandestine Carry Pistol
MON-TUE 24/25 OCT for Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TC3)
Cost for the classes is $500 for the pistol course and $300 for the TC3 course, BUT…
For students that choose to attend both courses, we will offer the TC3 for the reduced rate of $100, to cover the cost of materials. That means, you can get into CCP and TC3 for $600.
Because of the last-minute, short lead time on this course, deposits will be due by 8 OCT, with the balance payable upon arrival at the training location.
For more details, or to enroll for these courses, email HH6 at MosbyHH6@hushmail.com.