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You’re Getting Played…..

Tragically, yesterday, a Harris County, TX deputy was assassinated at a gas station, while fueling his patrol car. While there are a lot of people who think I am vehemently “anti-cop/anti-LEO,” that’s not true. I have a large number of friends and family who are, or have been, police officers. I considered being a police officer, when I left the military, before recognizing that I genuinely don’t have the temperament to do that work, in the manner that I believe it should be done. This is NOT a bash on police officers. I will repeat. THIS IS NOT A BASH ON POLICE OFFICERS.

This is a bash on the media control of your brainwashing, and the documentation to illustrate the truth of its occurrence.

It’s been a “bad year” for cops in the US, right? Lots of them getting assassinated, right? Surely, it’s all a result of the uprisings in urban areas, by inner-city youths and their communist agitators, right? It’s horrible, right?

Well, it’s horrible, sure, but it’s actually been a pretty average—if not below average—year for violent homicide of police officers, compared to the last thirty years.

Do you need an example of media conditioning of the American mind? I’m going to give you an example.

We have Fox News on, at the moment, as we’re sitting here, deciding what we’re going to actually do for the evening, since the kids are at Grandma’s for the weekend.

They were just discussing the assassination of the Harris County, TX deputy last night. To preface this, despite some folks’ belief that I am somehow anti-cop, I am NOT saying that this was okay. At all. I am however, going to use this as a PERFECT example of how the media fucking controls people’s thinking.

Lots of cops getting killed this year, right? Lots of cops being shot and murdered.

Except, we’re actually BELOW the average for the year, compared to recent history, despite the brouhaha the media is making.

I have been wondering about it for a little while now, with the constant barrage by the media, of police officers being assassinated. So, I went and looked at the Officer’s Down Memorial Page ( https://www.odmp.org), to look at the statistics.

Keep in mind, as you look at the numbers:

1) We are already at the end of August. So, we’re 2/3 of the way through the year. As of my checking today, there were 82 line-of-duty deaths of police officers, nationwide (the Harris County Deputy was not yet listed). Of that 82, three were the result of “Assault,” twenty-three were a result of “Gunfire,” (not including “Accidental Gunfire,” which is a separate category), and three were the result of Vehicular Assault. Remember those numbers, and remember, we’re already 2/3 of the way through the year.

Assault: 3
Gunfire: 23
Vehicular Assault: 3

That’s a total, 2/3 of the way through the year, of 29 violent homicides of police officers….If the trend remains, that’s going to result in 45 violent homicides of police officers, by the end of the year, assuming my math is correct (and it’s entirely possible that it’s not. I suck at math….)

Now, let’s look at 2005:

In total, there were 166 LOD deaths of police officers, nation-wide, in 2005. Of those, none are listed as “Assault,” but there was one killed by “Stabbing.” There were FIFTY-THREE killed by “Gunfire,” FIFTEEN killed by Vehicular Assault, and one killed by a “bomb,” (And I don’t know if that was intended to kill the officer, as in a targeted assassination, or he was an EOD guy who got blown up in the line-of-duty). Assuming the bomb victim was an assassination, that’s a total of 70, for violent murders of police officers, in 2005. We’re WAY behind 2005, so far this year.

But, let’s look back another decade, to 1995:

In 1995, there were 187 total LOD deaths of police officers in the US. Of those, four were “Assaults.” SEVENTY were “Gunfire.” Four were “Stabbing” victims, eight were “Vehicular Assault.” Eight are listed as “Terrorist Attack,” referring to the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in OKC (Regardless of what you think happened in OKC, let’s assume it WAS what we’ve been told it was, for the sake of argument, and it COULD be said that those eight were the victims of “assassination.”) That’s a total of 94 violent assassinations of police officers in 1995….
How about 1985?
There were 180 total LOD deaths, nation-wide. Of those, 98 were violent homicides. Six were the result of “Assaults.” SEVENTY-FIVE were the victims of “Shooting,” and three were “Stabbed.” Fourteen were the result of “Vehicular Assault.”

If you extrapolate the numbers for the rest of the year, based on averages….29 divided by 8 months is 3.65 per month. So, for 12 months, that would make the projection come out to 43.5 violent homicides of police officers in the US for the year….

So, exactly how “bad” of a year has it ACTUALLY been for police officers, and how much is actually a result of us just being MORE exposed the killings that HAVE occurred, because of the 24 hour news cycle? How much are you being played by the media?

Turn off the fucking television, get off the Internet (except to read my blog, of course….), and go get face-to-face with your friends, family, and neighbors. It’ll drop your blood pressure, almost as much as doing PT will.

(I should add the parenthetical note….I don’t believe the ODMP is an official .gov website, and I didn’t look at the FBI page to look at these numbers. Feel free to correct me, if the numbers on the FBI site contradict the message.

I should also add, again….this is NOT a bash on cops, most of whom are doing a good job at a shitty job. Any comments talking about “pigs” or advocating the assassination of police officers will be deleted forthwith. That’s NOT the purpose of this article.)

More on The Way of the Hero

Jack Donovan, of The Way of Men fame, resurrected his Start The World podcast the other day, with an interview with Greg Hamilton, former Ranger and SF soldier, and one of the founders of Insights Training, in Tacoma, WA.

Whether it’s because Greg and I come from similar backgrounds (although Greg did a hell of a lot more cool guy stuff than I did), or we ended up in similar places because of similar philosophies, I couldn’t say, but he spends a lot of time in this interview discussing the Way of the Hero, and his thoughts on following that Way.

Listen, think, learn, apply.

 

http://www.jack-donovan.com/axis/2015/08/stw-podcast-episode-10-greg-hamilton/

From the Comments

I found this request in my comments today:

http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Caught-on-Cam-Shooting-Deli-Robber-Fight-Hoagie-City-322084072.html

Would you mind doing a breakdown of everything that went wrong here? I don’t have the chops/experience to Monday morning quarterback him but I think this falls in line with what you’ve been stressing lately.

Thanks for doing what you do.”

So, I’m going to preface this with the statement that this is really, kind of outside my area of expertise. I would really like to see someone like Paul Sharp or Craig Douglas break this down, but since I was asked, and it’s something we all need to be thinking about, I’m going to go ahead and give my thoughts on my observations.

1) The victim (and make no mistake, he was a VICTIM) had zero fucking situational awareness. I’m guessing he was buying lottery tickets and scratching them off (seriously. That in itself tells me he’s a sucker), but I cannot imagine, in my worst nightmares, letting someone I didn’t know–especially in an otherwise empty Stop-N-Rob station–get that close behind me without at least turning around to a) see what the fuck he wanted, and b) asking if he would “pretty please, wouldja mind” BACKING THE FUCK OFF!!?

2) It looks like, and the movement of the BGs right hand seems to indicate, that his “concealed” gun was printing through his t-shirt. I could go into the benefits of appendix carry in preventing this, as well as protecting against the gun grab, but that would be self-evident (and will be mentioned below, anyway). While concealed carry is the only legitimate method of carry for thinking people for normal every day carry, for both tactical and political reasons (open carry in the woods is not “normal” for most of us, since we tend to live in towns, and carrying at a political rally MAY be open to debate, but for both tactical and political reasons, open carry in day-to-day life is retarded. Period.), it has to actually, you know…be concealed….

3) While, laudably, the victim was apparently WILLING to fight, he lacked the ABILITY to fight. This is something I’ve beat the EVER-LOVING-FUCK out of on this blog, as I beat on the “you need to get training” drum. Will is great, but skill beats will, more often than not. Dude is on his back, wrestling for hand control of the gun, and doesn’t know what the fuck to do. Now, I’m not going to say that having studied Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for six months would have made a difference (it would have), but at least, with some experience fighting from the bottom, he could have leveraged the presence of his legs into the fight by trying to replace guard, and giving himself some better degree of control of the situation to hopefully hang on to the gun, and maybe not get shot. Carrying appendix, when combined with some knowledge of how to fight, would have damned near guaranteed that he would have maintained positive control of the gun. Hell, he might have even been able to shoot the Bad Guy. As it is, he got shot at, with his own gun, before the BG took off with it.

There are few ways in this world that one can die, more embarrassing, than being shot with YOUR OWN GODDAMNED GUN!!!!

4) Dude just looked like a victim. I mean, seriously. Look at that scrawny little dude. My wrists are bigger around than his biceps. He needed to be in the gym, throwing some heavy weight around. At least then, since he lacked the skill to fight, he MIGHT have been able to leverage the STRENGTH to win….

(Yes, maybe he has cancer, or AIDS, or HerpeGonorrheaSyphilAIDS, or something else, and I’m a horrible person for making fun of him for not being a weightlifter. Tough shit. Fate don’t care. She’s a mean old cunt like that.)

Edited to add: And he looks like he’s wearing his goddamned pajamas out in public. Even the bad guy took the time to tuck his shirt in before he entered the store. Seriously. Dress like a goddamned grown man, not like a fucking eight year old. You’ll look less like a victim.

Building Tribe: The Way of the Hero

...Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker…

–C.S. Lewis

…the sagas celebrate the deeds of heroic individuals who often break the rules. But, such individuals are celebrated because they are exceptional. It is such men who lead, and command the loyalty of others (which is the virtue most conspicuously celebrated in the sagas). All people need leaders; they seldom if ever liberate or enlighten themselves. If great changes are to be made, a vanguard is needed, and in the beginning, that vanguard will be feared and despised.” –Colin Cleary

For much of human history, the art of the hero wasn’t left up to chance…the hero’s skills were studied, practiced, and perfected, then passed along from parent to child and teacher to student. The art of the hero wasn’t about being brave; it was about being so competent that bravery wasn’t an issue. You weren’t supposed to go down for a good cause; the goal was to figure out a way not to go down at all. Achilles and Odysseus and the rest of the classical heroes hated the thought of dying and scratched for every second of life. A hero’s one crack at immortality was to be remembered as a champion, and champions don’t die dumb. It all hinged on the ability to unleash the tremendous resources of strength, endurance, and agility that many people don’t realize they already have.

–Christopher McDougall

As I’ve been working steadily along, trying to create book number three in an image that at least somewhat resembles the goals I have for it, the three quotes above have been pinned to the wall above my office desk, because so much of the essence of the goal of the book is encompassed in those three quotes.

You see, one of the characteristics that defines a tribe, both anthropologically and practically, is a shared history, whether real or mythic. This history may be ancestral. Generally, all members of a kin-group tribe will be able to trace their ancestry back to a common individual, but often—thanks to the phenomena of intermarriage and adoption in tribal societies, those ancestral bonds are as likely to be mythic as they are to be connected by DNA. In sodalities, like guilds and war-band type tribes of course, it’s almost a given that the shared ancestry of the tribe—the nucleus that makes them a tribe, their “mutual exclusivity,” is going to to be more mythic than real.

That’s okay. Why is that okay? I mean, isn’t that a lie?

Let’s back up, for just a moment, and look again at what defines a tribe. A tribe is a social unit that possesses something that defines the group’s boundaries, but also that separates it from the rest of humanity. It’s the “us vs. them” that Jack Donovan discusses in his writing. I refer to it as “mutual exclusivity.” It’s that je ne sais quoi that defines the boundaries of “our”group from others.
It doesn’t need to be real, as long as it’s real to the group.

That mutual exclusivity, typically, can be defined as the shared history, ancestry, values, traditions, and customs, of the people of the tribe. Some may be shared with other tribes, but the specifics of how OUR tribe recognizes or exercises them is different enough that it separates us from them. In pre-Christianization Europe, for one example, pretty much all tribes that are now recognized as having belonged to the Germanic linguistic group—the Cherusci, the Allemani, the Marcomanni, the Franks, Angles, Saxons, and Jutes; the Vandals and Gepids, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Burgundians, and Lombards, were “Germanic.” Their languages were all connected. Their cultures shared similarities, but their cultures were not identical. They were separate tribes, even as they shared common cultural characteristics.

Today however, we’re going to discuss one particular characteristic of tribalism and neo-tribalism, the immense value of the shared mythic ancestry of a tribe.

In what can be defined as an “intentional tribe,” such as a guild or war-band type association historically, or in our post-modern context, the intentional grouping of like-minded families for mutual assistance, where shared ancestry is not—and almost cannot—be certain, the mythic ancestry, and the lessons that can be gained from claiming a shared mythic ancestry cannot be overemphasized.

An example of this can be seen in the military, with the adoption of unit lineages. The United States Army says the following about the lineage of the Ranger Regiment: “The U.S. Army Ranger history predates the Revolutionary War.” Now, BY DEFINITION, nothing of the United States can predate the Revolution. So, by citing Majors Church and Rogers, fighting for the British, in the French and Indian War—especially considering Major Rogers’ later loyalties—as ancestral figures for the U.S. Army’s Rangers, is the very definition of a mythic ancestry for the unit. That doesn’t, however, change the fact that the exploits of Rogers’ Rangers, for one, have long served as a catalyst for awesome achievements by members of the unit.

We can do the same thing with our own intentional tribes, and kin-group tribes as well, today.

So, what is the value of the hero? In the Age of the Anti-Hero, why bother? Nobody takes that heroism shit seriously anyway, right? Two days ago, as I write this, three young American men, along with an older British pensioner, followed the Way of the Hero, on a train in France, when a would-be jihadist gunmen decided to shoot up their train car with a Kalashnikov. Rather than sitting back and hoping for “someone” to do “something,” they took action. There was, apparently, no hesitation on their part. They “went to the sound of the guns” literally.

It is popular in contemporary American society—and make no mistake, it carries over into the shooting world, as well as the preparedness and liberty communities—to belittle those who choose to try and set themselves up for success when their time comes to follow the Way of the Hero. Long-time readers of this blog have seen it regularly in the comments.

“Oh, you can do all that PT you want. You can do all that training, but you could still get unlucky, and catch a bullet. You could still die from dysentery or smallpox or anthrax.”

Those people are absolutely right. You COULD die from one of those. That doesn’t matter though, because, as they point out, it doesn’t matter how fit or prepared you are…when smallpox catches you, smallpox catches you, and fitness—while it MIGHT increase your survivability—is going to have less impact on your future than good nursing and medical care.

In The Fate of Empires, Sir John Baget Glubb argued that the rise of intellectualism was one of the causes of the decline of empire. In Athens, the spirit of continual conversation, mentioned Biblically in The Acts of the Apostles, “…all of the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas…” led to interminable debate and discussion, and constant argument, back-and-forth, among factions with different views of the end-state goals of Athenian democracy.

Just like in our own time, when people are too busy arguing over the details of their pet peeve or concern of the week, instead of getting out and doing something that matters, the spirit of Athenian debate seems to be, much like it was in other historical imperial cultures, the destruction of the spirit of action that is necessary for success.

Make no mistake, the rise of intellectualism seems to be a good thing, at first glance. Surprising advances have been made in the sciences, and the understanding of our physical world. The cultivation of the human intellect seems to be—and I would argue, for the most part, is—a magnificent ideal. This is only true however, if the pursuit if intellectualism does not rob a culture of its willingness—even its longing for the pursuit of—to pursue action for the furtherance of its ideals and the protection of its values.

The most damnable result of the rise of intellectualism however, is the growth within the collective psyche of a people, that the human brain can solve all the perceived problems of the world. The reality of the human experience over the last 40,000 years rather clearly illustrates that, in order for any human cultural activity to succeed, some form of community must be engaged in an actual effort towards the completion of that goal. The idealistic naivete of the idea that “reason always wins,” and mental cleverness alone can resolve all problems, without physical effort, falls flat as soon as a foe is met who is willing to stop talking, and start chopping the heads off the intellectuals.

We see this in our contemporary world, as the intelligentsia of the West looks for ways to reason with the Islamo-Fascism of extremist Mohammedism. We look for ways to appease the soldiers of the resurgent Caliphate, even as they are taking heads. We pontificate on some “moral high ground,” without being willing to accept that it was not the moral high ground that led to the ascendance of western cultural values in the world. It was the willingness to raze cities, and put heads on spikes, that allowed western culture to overtake the world. It was the willingness to firebomb and drop atomic bombs on cities that allowed American culture to overtake the world. We can sit in our comfortable, climate-controlled homes and offices, and worry about the “moral high ground” because our forebears were willing to take action. We can look back at history and believe we’re above all that, because we live in the Age of Intellect.

Before we can begin to recognize the impact of intellectualism on the Way of the Hero, we do need to concede that intelligence is not bad. Having the intelligence to understand the meanings of words, and to apply those words correctly, is important. Words have meanings. In order to avoid being pawns of The Narrative, we have to 1) understand those meanings, and 2) insist that those words are used, within the context of those meanings. Anyone who insists on misusing those words, or relying on “the generally accepted definition” is not worthy of wasting our own energy on debate.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary—which is, in my estimation—the final arbiter of meaning within the English language, intellectualism is defined as “the exercise of the intellect at the expense of the emotions.” In turn, intellect is defined as “the faculty of reasoning or understanding, objectively, especially with regard to abstract or academic matters.

Intellect is good. The ability to set emotion aside, and look at things objectively, as they are, rather than as we wish them to be, is critical to survival and life. It is not until we begin to consider the realities of human nature though, and the resulting expression of intellect, sans emotion, in our current socio-political climate, that we begin to see the deleterious effects.

Noam Chomsky, a prattering “social activist” intellectual of the worst sort, pointed out—in a rare moment of honesty—that “…intellectuals are specialists in defamation. They are basically political commissars, they are the ideological administrators, the most threatened by dissidence…” In Marxist philosophy, the social-class function of the intellectual, referred to by Marx and Engel as the “intelligentsia,” is to be the source of progressive ideals for the transformation of society, and to interpret the country’s politics to the masses, as well as to provide guidance and advice to the political leadership of the Party.

This is, ultimately, the problem with intellectualism, and its negative impact on our society’s view of the Way of the Hero. Thomas Sowell—who is by any objective measure, the definition of an intellectual—makes the case in his 2009 book, Intellectuals and Society, for a justifiable level of anti-intellectualism in the modern world, due to malfeasance in the educational system:

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

It is critical to notice that Dr. Sowell is critical of a misplaced emphasis on unreasoned thought, not on the use of intellect. In fact, it is a call for a more disciplined intellectual rigor, requiring both the intellectual tools of critical thinking, and the empiricism of life experience, for decision-making on where an individual stands in regard to complex issues. This distinguishes intelligence (good) from intellectualism (bad). As Thucydides famously reminded us in History of the Pelopennesian Wars, “…the society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting by fools.

The academic who has never tasted the copper-mouthed sensation of life-and-death fear, as he watches muzzle flashes downrange, or watches someone charging him, with fists clenched around the haft of a cold steel blade, or has never watched the blood flowing out of someone that he knows and loves, lacks the real life experience to genuinely understand, at a visceral, human level, the warrior past of our human heritage. On the opposite side of the same coin however, the warrior—no matter how blooded in battle—without an intellectual understanding of the human past, can never really begin to understand the strategic social implications of the combat in which he took part. He is forced to accept the explanations of his leaders. For our tribes to thrive, there must be a balance sought between the intellect and the instinct.

The balance must be sought between the intellect and the instinct.

The folklore and legends of the past—the tales of our heroes—are the epic oral traditions that form the beginning of the foundations of the study of history. They are—first and foremost—bellicose. If Achilles had been content to sit in a classroom and debate the merits of Lacedaemonian militaristic social structures, versus Athenian democracy, would anyone really remember him? Has Brad Pitt ever starred in the movie portrayal of Socrates? (For the record, for those readers whose entire view of it is based on a shitty comic book-turned-movie, Lacedeamonia was the actual name of the city-state we refer to as Sparta.)

Until the rise of Marxist intellectualism in the 20th Century, historiography was largely nothing more than the study of conflict and wars, and—occasionally—the social and political catalysts for both. History is the study only of the written accounts of the past, and writing is a social communications device limited—by definition—to civilized societies. For this reason, the history of the world has been limited by the prejudices and cultural cognitive biases of civilized historians. While particularly prevalent in the Marxist-dominated intelligentsia of the 20th Century, even previously, this has led to a discrediting of the value of myth and legend in the telling of the human experience.

Even Herodotus, “The Father of History,” recorded legends and fanciful tales, explaining himself with the fact that he only recorded what he’d been told, in order “to prevent the traces of human events from being erased by time, and to preserve the fame of the important remarkable achievements produced by both Greeks and non-Greeks.” Herodotus understood the importance of history and knowledge, but he also understood that myth is history, told better.

Recognizing the existence of cultural biases of historians, we are forced to acknowledge, within historiography, valid, unbiased observations of the significant majority of the general human experience of the past, in the form of preliterate cultures, including many of those that our most cherished cultural values and traditions derive from. This leaves us with a limited number of options for studying much of the past, and how humans have survived outside of the civilized nation-state construct.

In the first, we can turn to the ethnographic observation of the acknowledged biased studies of civilized observers, like the legendary Roman historian Tacitus. In the second, we can turn to the relatively modern study of anthropology. These two allow us to look at what were and are preliterate societies, as they existed alongside civilization, both in the past, and in the present. Through critical thinking and comparison of these two, we can often deduce valuable lessons for our intentional tribes. While some intellectuals argue that the access of modern preliterate cultures, to modern technology and cultural values through even limited contacts like trade and the presence of anthropologists in their midst creates an artificiality to the study, this argument overlooks the fact that even our preliterate barbarian ancestors had contact and trade with their civilized society neighbors. If not, we’d know nothing of them, for lack of written record. Anthropology and ethnography does have limitations—mostly in the educated biases of the recording writers—but it does offer one of the most valuable options for comparison.

In the third option, we can rely on a study of the myths and legends of the past, handed down through the biased lenses of historians, When coupled with the study of the archaeological evidence available, and the intellectual rigor of solid, objective critical thinking, we gain a great deal of value. The greatest drawback to this route however, is that internalizing the understanding of the myths and legends handed down to us from the past requires overcoming the influences of the biases and belief systems of the civilized scribes—generally non-believers of the myths they recorded—that first put them down in ink.

Ultimately, the only way for this method to have value to us is for the modern interpreter, retelling the legends, to have a legitimate, experiential frame-of-reference in the subject matter of the myth or legend. An academic who has never been in even a schoolyard fistfight, has no legitimate frame-of-reference for interpreting the legends of a mythic warrior’s actions, when considered objectively. This doesn’t mean he can’t gain value from the legend, or pass on lessons to others, based on that legend. It simply means that often, the most valuable, more nuanced lessons, will go unremarked, because the teller lacks the experience to recognize their import.

There needs to be, in the distillation of experience that forms the shared traditions and value of our intentional tribes, a balance between pure reason and intellect, and the more gut-level intuition that can only be developed through the experience of living life. We have, in the western cultural tradition, numerous examples illustrating a perfectly valid alternative to the “real” history of academia, all of which illustrate our cultural values far better. They are the mythic histories beloved of all people, except the intellectuals who possess a vested interest in maintaining the myth of the intellect over the instinct of action.

In the Hellenic tradition, we have the great Homeric epics, including the Illiad and the Odyssey. We have the teachings of Socrates, first expressed in writing by Xenophon, Aristophanes, and—most famously—Plato and Aristotle. None of these stories can be considered strictly historical. Intellectuals would insist on referring to them as “legends,” since they lack any evidence beyond second-hand stories. There is little or no archaeological evidence that the characters in Homer’s epics—or even Socrates as an actual person—ever actually existed, beyond the stories. Rather, these are the mythic histories of the classical Hellenes. They portray the preliterate ancestry of the classical Greeks, in the way the classical Greeks wanted to believe that their ancestors existed (if you haven’t figured it out yet, that last clause in that last sentence is the critical point of this article).

To the North, we have—at a much, much later date—the same types of mythic histories, in the form of the Norse and Icelandic sagas, and epic poems like Beowulf in the Anglo-Saxon tradition, and the Nibelunglied in the German. These too are the mythic histories of the respective cultures, forming a portrait of the preliterate ancestors as either the Christian scribes that put ink to parchment, or the individuals who passed the tales on to the scribes, wanted their ancestors to have been.

It is popular among the intelligentsia to discredit the accuracy of the sagas and epics, precisely because they were written down long after the times they are credited with having occurred, by Christian scribes with an entirely different cultural bias than the subjects of the myths. Some of the legends inherent to the mythic histories, of course, are beyond the belief of rational, critical thinking, to our minds. Is it creditable that Achilles really was impervious to all wounds, except to the back of his ankle? Could Ragnar Lothbrok really have accomplished all the things he is credited with? Is it creditable that Siegfried—or Beowulf, for that matter—actually slayed a dragon? Perhaps not, at least from a rational, scientific point-of-view.

The most common course-of-action then, has been to attempt to explain these myths in more scientifically plausible ways. Achilles was not really “blessed of the gods.” He was just supremely gifted—or inordinately lucky—or he was an early pioneer of social engineering, and managed to induce a mass hysteria that affected all who confronted him so that none of them actually ever tried to actually kill him, because of the legends he spread about his own birth.

Ragnar Lothbrok was really a composite of a number of minor warlords, blended together in legend, to create a fictional character worthy of the origin myths of a strong, proud, national and cultural identity. The dragon foes of Siegfried and Beowulf were metaphors like the “snakes” that Saint Patrick drove from Ireland during the conversion era, or they were just made up, whole cloth, by the original poets, long before their tales were written down.

While this urge makes sense from an academic standpoint, where everything has to have a rational, plausible explanation, it does a great disservice not only to the men who possessed the original foresight to record the legends for the future, but to the rest of mankind as well. The fact is, mythic history is just as important—more important, I would argue—than actual history, to the cultural identity and history of a people. We “know” for example, that—despite the cultural cognitive biases of the Chinese—the Middle Kingdom has seldom been a single cultural and political entity. Instead, while certain dynasties have held the imperial throne, the vast majority of China, even as late as the early 20th Century, was actually a broken, scattered composite of minor fiefdoms, ruled by fiercely independent local warlords who may—or may not—have offered token fealty to the empire, whole practicably retaining total autonomy. Despite this though, the mythic history of the Middle Kingdom has been critical to the ethnic and cultural identity of many people of Chinese descent, around the world.

The same is true of the value of the Homeric epics, the teachings credited to Socrates, and even the sagas and epics of the North, for western cultural values. Our own national founders, raised with classical educations, knew the mythic histories of North and South, and accepted them—if not as actual history—as an important cultural myth, forming a significant portion of the better foundations of their own—and our own—culture. Myth really is history, told better, and myth is as important to the identity of a culture, as actual history.

So, what does this mean, in the context of trying to form intentional tribes for survival of the decline of empire? Where can we apply these lessons as praxis?

Number One, we need to begin creating a shared mythic history of our tribe. This need not be all mythic of course. Within our own cultural traditions and history, there are ample stories of seemingly superhuman feats and achievements. The problem is, if your children are publicly educated, they will no longer hear of the feats of men like Nathan Hale, Francis Marion, and Paul Revere. They won’t hear of a young JEB Stuart, not even 16 yet, when he blew a highwayman out of the saddle with his grandfather’s blunderbuss, loaded with powder and gravel. They won’t hear of the “stooges if the colonialist imperialists” that fought in the China-Burma-India theatre as Merrill’s Marauders. They probably won’t even hear of the actual mythic legends like Ragnar Lothbrok, Egil Skallgrimmsson, Achilles, Hector, and Odysseus. It’s a given that they won’t hear the stories of heroes like David and Joshua and Daniel…

More than just knowing these tales, we need to TELL these tales. Whether your own children, the children of your family, or the children of your intentional tribe, our young people need to hear and learn the mythic history of their people. If your tribe has monthly or weekly training drills, or even just meetings, someone should be entertainer enough to tell these stories in a way that keeps the young mesmerized, and away from the television and iPads and computers. Even the adults in your groups may be unfamiliar with the lessons of these myths.

The stories need not be of legends either. Their are ample tales of heroism, of life and health sacrificed for the good of one’s own people, one’s tribe, all around us. From the stories of Medal of Honor winners, to modern soldiers in combat, to firefighters and police officers, to normal, everyday, run-of-the-mill, suburban soccer moms and dads running to the—literal or figurative—sounds of the guns. The goal is not to simply recite stories. The goal is to create a tribal tradition that values heroism and The Way of the Hero, to counter and overcome the rise of the Age of Mediocrity.

Even more than living and telling these tales, we need to begin to relive the lessons of these tales. Among the excerpts that I prefaced this article with, was one from Christopher McDougall’s book Natural Born Heroes:

For much of human history, the art of the hero wasn’t left up to chance…the hero’s skills were studied, practiced, and perfected, then passed along from parent to child and teacher to student. The art of the hero wasn’t about being brave; it was about being so competent that bravery wasn’t an issue. You weren’t supposed to go down for a good cause; the goal was to figure out a way not to go down at all. Achilles and Odysseus and the rest of the classical heroes hated the thought of dying and scratched for every second of life. A hero’s one crack at immortality was to be remembered as a champion, and champions don’t die dumb. It all hinged on the ability to unleash the tremendous resources of strength, endurance, and agility that many people don’t realize they already have.

It is not just ourselves that we train for. It is not for my own ego that I go out into my backyard gym and throw heavy iron barbells and kettlebells around. It’s not for my own aggrandizement that I run sprint intervals, or take long, fast hikes through the forested mountains, over broken terrain, with heavy packs on. It’s not even for the survival of my children. My children are with us, watching us, as my wife and I do our daily PT. They see us doing it, every day, rain or shine, good health or ill, and they learn, from our example, the Way of the Hero; of being prepared. They learn the message of being “so competent that bravery isn’t an issue.”

My children have been given rubber training knives in lieu of teething rings. They have had bedtime stories of the ancient myths and legends, and their lullabies have been songs of battle and strife and good overcoming evil through skill and will.

We need to live the Way of the Hero, not so much for ourselves, as for our children, that they might learn these lessons, to pass on to their children, that the values of the tribe will live on. Ultimately, it’s a given that we’re all going to die. I’m well into middle-age. If I’m not at the halfway point of the modern human lifespan, I’m pushing it closely. I make no claims to physical immortality. I strive to ensure the survival not of myself, but of my kith and kin. They garner the benefit of the struggle to live the Way of the Hero, because it gives them a moral exemplar to strive for.

Sacrifice is something that is often talked about, but seldom really discussed in detail. This is too bad, because really, the Way of the Hero is Sacrifice. Sacrifice is a gift exchange—a barter if you will—with the divine. When we offer a sacrifice, regardless of our personal belief system, and regardless of the sacrifice offered—prayer, blood, or other—we are offering the gods a gift. In exchange for that gift, we are hoping that, when we need it, they will offer us something in return. Training is sacrifice of the self. When you train, you are offering your time, your sweat, your effort, and occasionally, your blood, to the divine. In return, you are asking that—when you need it—the skill developed by that training, will be given to you by the gods, that you will be able to do what you need to do.

When approached this way, it makes training a tribal value—again, regardless of belief system or religion of the tribe. Sacred things are those things that have been marked off and set aside from the profane space of the world, separated from the mundane of every day objects and activities, and from profane time by being linked to the eternity of the divine. Our training becomes a sacred tribal tradition and value of we “set it side,” and treat it as “holy,” or “consecrated.” We make it special by making it ritual. Would you let daily life interfere with your prayers? Would you let your job interfere with your family time? Make training a ritual of importance, and dive into the Way of the Hero. If it’s appropriate to your belief system, open and close your training with prayer, to set it aside from the mundane on either side of it. Make it “holy” by incorporating “scriptures” of the stories of the heroes of your traditions into it. One thing I try to do in every class is tell stories that are relevant to the class, at that moment, of men I’ve known, or people known by people I’ve known, who have done amazing things, relevant to that lesson. Stories drive home the lessons we are trying to impart, just like a particular religious parable or legend can drive home the lesson of a sermon.


That, ultimately, is the value of the Hero. Not to live forever. It is to give us an example of behavior to strive for. I am not Achilles. I am not Hector. I am not Arminius. I am not Ragnar. I am not Joshua or David or Daniel. I am John, but I can strive to be LIKE all of those men, and in the struggle, I am better, and my tribe is better.

Podcast Appearance Tonight

At 2100 tonight (CST), I will be appearing on the Spearhead Transmission podcast, out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. I honestly don’t know fuck-all about the podcast, or the two dudes who run it. I only have a general outline of the conversational path. We’ll see how it goes. Feel free to listen in, maybe I’ll say something profound (it’s more likely I’ll say something really fucking stupid though……)

Spearhead Transmission Podcast:
http://spearheadtransmission.libsyn.com/

Their Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/spearheadtransmission

TEOTWAWKI is NOW! Overcoming Normalcy Bias: Critical Thinking for Survival

One of the most important skills for survival that must be mastered, or at least practiced at a journeyman level, by the prepared individual, family, and tribe, is critical thinking. Of all the practical, tactical training and preparedness you can can do, the single most important, most often overlooked, is basic critical thinking skills. As I write, travel and teach, and interact with contemporary people, I regularly witness the lack of this in the broad majority of people. I’ve even been known to suffer from it myself.

People, even in the “firearms,” “tactical training,” “preparedness,” and “militia” communities, suffer from a pronounced lack of critical thinking skills, all too often.

An example of this can be seen in the recent frenzy within the preparedness and liberty-minded communities, over the Jade Helm 2015 UW exercise. For months prior to the beginning of the exercise, we saw unfounded, unsourced reports by sensationalist outlets in the preparedness and militia communities repeated across the preparedness “media” and social media as “fact.” Here we are, a full month into the exercise, nearing the stated end of the exercise, and most of the original source reporters have either stopped talking about it completely, or have taken a 180 degree course shift from their original stance, of “it’s an imposition of martial law,” to “well, it’s still an attempt to normalize seeing military personnel operating on US soil!”

This is despite the fact that COUNTLESS recent Special Forces veterans within our own virtual communities (yes, myself included), have spent an inordinate amount of bandwidth trying to explain to people the concept of a “theater-level” exercise, and pointing out the recent historical precedents for this exact type of exercise.

It’s funner, and far more entertaining however, to imagine resisting against martial law, in some form of masturbatory Red Dawn scenario, than to use critical thinking to recognize, “Hey, maybe we SHOULD at least listen to what the guys with actual experience in THIS EXACT TYPE OF TRAINING EXERCISE have to say, before we jump to conclusions. You know what happened as a result of the hyper-paranoia induced within the preparedness and militia communities by these Harbingers of Doom? The virtual community lost even more credence with the average Joe and Jane Citizen, who saw the community represented as a bunch of farcical, paranoid lunatics. Seriously.

That was a lack of critical thinking. It’s easier to blindly repost scary memes on Facebook though.

A similar example can be seen in the oversimplification of “use-of-force” scenarios among the preparedness and survivalists. Too often, discussions of use-of-force end up being artificially simplified to, “I’ve got mah .45! Ah’ll jest shoot that there sumbitch in the eye!” Or, “I’m going to use my gutterfighting, dirty tricks to gouge his eye out and skull-fuck him to death!” While those may work as standard responses to dangerous encounters in a TEOTWAWKI “Zombie Apocalypse,” the simple reality of life is, we’re not dealing with a Zombie Fucking Apocalypse. We’re dealing with an entirely different TEOTWAWKI situation. In the real TEOTWAWKI life we’re living, right now, today, those responses as standardized responses, will only end up in one result: getting buggered in the ass by your cellmate. Oversimplification of any scenario is, in itself, a failure of critical thinking, in recognizing that the world is NOT black-and-white, and there are always shades of gray involved. Maybe not fifty shades, but damned sure more than two.

The above example of the REAL TEOTWAWKI leads directly into the one failure of critical thinking that is currently, and will continue to be, the leading killer of otherwise solid, prepared individuals. This ranges from armed citizens, to soldiers, to armed police officers on the street. That is “normalcy bias.”

What is “normalcy bias?”

Wikipedia, that paragon of journalistic objectivism, defines normalcy bias as “a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to undestimate both the possibility of a disaster and its possible effects….The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred then it never will occur….People with normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before…”

That’s actually—surprisingly for Wikipedia—a pretty accurate description. So, how do armed citizens, who have actually, apparently overcome their normalcy bias at least enough to recognize that something bad enough to warrant needing a gun MIGHT occur, suffer from normalcy bias? How do soldiers and police officers suffer from normalcy bias? How can I say that preppers, who obviously recognize the potential for a disaster to occur—that’s why their preppers, for fuck’s sake—suffer from normalcy bias?

Well, let’s back up for a few minutes first, and look at WHY normalcy bias occurs.

The Why and How Behind Normalcy Bias
Humans as a rule, in any given scenario or situation, generally “see” exactly what we expect to see. An example of this regularly occurs in the shoot house during the decision-making drills when I teach CQB. As the shooter moves around the angles of the door, he “pies” quickly, to see as much of the interior as possible, before actually effecting entry. Many times, they’ll “see” a role-player inside “pointing a gun” at them, because they do, in fact, see the role-player’s hands up and to the front, and they do, in fact, see a gun. What they don’t recognize, because it’s not what they expect to see, is that the gun is actually laying on the ground at the role-player’s feet, and the outstretched hands are palms-out, in a placating or pleading gesture. For the first several iterations, almost invariably (certainly in more than 90% of cases) the shooter engages the role-player with simulated gunfire, because they “saw” a “gun pointed at them,” because that’s what they expected to see, and that was processed faster than their brain could piece together what was actually seen.

The same thing often happens in what later turn out to be apparently unjustified shootings by both armed citizens and sworn police officers. In dealing with an aggressive, combative subject, something appears in the hands, and the good guy, conditioned by sub-par training, to “expect” a combative subject to have a weapon, engages with lethal force, only to discover after the fact, it was a cellphone or some other innocuous implement that was not really a weapon at all (it’s important to note, I’m not criticizing the individual in this case, but their training. There’s no point in criticizing someone for following their human nature).

Besides seeing what we expect to see, the second why behind normalcy bias is the human tendency to ignore and/or deny those things that make us uncomfortable. Someone who is uncomfortable with physical violence may be in denial, even as they find themselves on the pavement, getting a boot stomp party across their forehead. This happens with police officers and armed citizens with a frightening frequency, and there is ample surveillance and dash camera footage to validate it. Even a half-hearted search of YouTube, coupled with some minor objectivism when watching the videos, makes this abundantly obvious.

Finally, if something cannot be “ignored” or “denied,” we dismiss it as unrealistic. I witnessed one major example of this on my buddy Greg Ellifritz’s Active Response Training Facebook page recently, when he posted a link to an article discussing the relationship, or lack thereof, between what “gun guys” wear in tactical shooting classes, and what is actually needed for personal protection, based off the recorded use-of-force experiences of armed citizens and police officers. The argument was made that, since the chances of a private citizen getting involved in a shooting that involved them using their rifle was slim to none, that training with a full load-out, and practicing things like speed reloads and related esoteria, was largely unnecessary and irrelevant.

There’s a lot of apparent value to that argument. While I do drive around with a loaded M4 on the backseat floorboard of my vehicle, and carry a Glock 17 or 19 concealed on my person religiously, I don’t drive around with a plate carrier and warbelt or RACK on. If we look at regular use-of-force incidents by armed citizens in public, and at home, most are successfully ended with far less than one magazine out of a Glock, let alone out of a rifle. One commenter noted that if an armed citizen fired an entire magazine out of an AR15, in a defensive shooting scenario, he or she would be the lead story on the national news. If they used TWO magazines, they’d probably go in the history books.

The problem is, THAT is normalcy bias, and it leads us directly into the crux of this article: We don’t live in what most of us recognize as “normal” times anymore. I would argue that we are, in fact, in the midst of TEOTWAWKI, and most people, including “preppers” are in a normalcy bias-driven denial of that reality.

TEOTWAWKI…For Real
For most of us, of a, shall I say, “certain age,” normal is defined as the America we recognize from our youth and young adulthood. That America is gone, as most of us recognize. The denial in question isn’t that. The denial is expecting that “normal” as we define it is going to return.

The core of this article clicked with me several nights ago, as my wife and I watched the Republican presidential candidate debates on television. No one of the candidates was arguing for a return, or even a conservation, of “normal” America. From Donald Trump acknowledging that he had—and would continue—to buy politicians, and that it was “no big deal,” because “everybody does it,” to Chris Christie arguing that there was nothing wrong with shredding the Constitution, in the pursuit of “security,” to Ben Carson arguing that taxes are a moral equivalent of tithing, there was really none of the candidates—with the arguable exception of Rand Paul, who made any argument that even hinted at a desire to return America to “normal.”

We face constant, and increasing foreign invasion across the southern border. We face increasing socialization of our society and government, and beyond calls for electing a “Republican” to roll back the socialist policies of the Obama administration, including his “unconstitutional executive orders” (no mention was made of those of his predecessor, I noted), no one really expects any changes to that either. We see calls from Mohammedan subcultures within our country to be allowed to deal with things under Sharia Law. Rather than laugh at the absurdity of it, too often, we give it credence by even taking it seriously.

Sure, they’re serious, but the only sane response to that is a resounding, “Go fuck yourself, or go home and fuck a goat,” by the political leadership of any community that finds itself confronted with such pleas. Even giving them the appearance of legitimate consideration is admission that “normal” is no longer “normal,” and is admission that it really us TEOTWAWKI.

Normalcy bias, in this instance, is the belief that TEOTWAWKI will be heralded by some obvious, major catalyst, like an EMP or the declaration of martial law by the government. Ignoring the absolute, absurd impossibility of effective martial law in the United States, as a whole, think about the actual definition of TEOTWAWKI. It’s HERE, NOW, and denying it is normalcy bias.

Yes, use of force by armed citizens are generally solved by 2-3 rounds in 2-3 seconds at 2-3 yards. Accepting that, and determining that, because this is “normal,” then that’s all you need to prepare for, even as we argue and discuss the infiltration of jihadi terrorists, and WITNESS the radicalization of home-grown jihadi sympathizers, is a textbook example of normalcy bias.

Stockpiling beans, bullets, and band-aids, in the interest of being prepared for TEOTWAWKI, without recognition that you are in the midst of TEOTWAWKI, is normalcy bias.

Overcoming The Bias
We see media pundits every day, telling us we have to move past our biases, and accept all people as the same. While that’s absurd, on the face of it, there are biases we do need to overcome, if we’re to survive long enough to ensure that our children and grandchildren will survive. How do we do so?

1) Accept that “normal” is no longer “normal.” This requires more than simply telling yourself. It requires internalizing it as reality and truth. It’s great for patriotic, conservative, Americans to long for yesteryear, and the greatness of the Pax Americana. It’s also completely fucking delusional. America is only a superpower now, among nation-state actors. The transnational terrorist groups do not recognize American sovereignty and superiority. If they did, they would never have started fighting, or would have yielded by now. A wall along the Mexican border is great…except we already know there are more tunnels than an goddamned ant farm, traversing the border. So, sure, let’s drop several billion dollars building a wall that won’t be any more useful than the locks on your car door are (remember, as my grandfather told me when I was a kid, “car locks only keep honest people honest.”). Illegal aliens are going to continue crossing the border, and there’s not a damned thing you can do about it, outside of genocide, or the total collapse of our economy.

2) Recognize what the “new normal” implies for you and yours. This may range from reduced police presence in your neighborhood or community, especially for dealing with property crimes and other “minor” issues. Think about what happened in NYC last year after two officers were assassinated, sitting in their cruiser. If you live in a really shitty neighborhood, where people are as likely to assault cops as help them, you should—justifiably–expect the same thing. As my wife pointed out yesterday, when she heard that people were “acting out” in Ferguson, on the anniversary of the Wilson-Brown shooting, “if I was a cop, I wouldn’t even respond to calls in their neighborhood. Fuck them. If they hate me, why help them?”

Recognize that, as the elevation of “special groups” of people, of whom you are not a member, for whatever reason, continues, if you find yourself engaged in a legal or political struggle with them, you will lose, because they are “special,” and you are not. You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to approve of it, but if you deny it, you’ll find yourself “married” to a cellmate, and the relationship WILL be consummated.

Recognize that, ultimately, you have to rely on yourself, and those with whom you’ve built trusted relationships. That may range from dealing with community problems in an “extrajudicial” manner, to helping those who’ve lost their employment and income, by either providing employment for them, or using some gray market type of exchange with them, to allow them to procure the necessary items of life, ranging from food to shelter and clothing.

Experience Is Only A Start
Experience is a great advantage when dealing with bad situations. Experience in violence is a great advantage when overcoming the normalcy bias necessary to self-defense situations, whether that’s getting caught in traffic in the midst of a “flash mob” and recognizing that escape means driving OVER people, or it’s recognizing—and accepting—the reality that the dude coming at you in the middle of the alley, with a knife in his hand is not curious if you could spare a pat of butter for his crackers.

When we’ve faced violence before, it becomes significantly easier to acknowledge its occurrence. This is why the criminal gangbanger with a Saturday Night Special has a far better chance of survival than a white-bread suburban stockbroker with a basement full of bunker supplies, but no experience with interpersonal violence, regardless of how many AK47 and AR15 rifles he has stockpiled in his safe.

Ultimately though, experience can be as much a hindrance as a help. If you expect all future engagements with people to reflect what you experienced as a neighborhood bully when you were a kid, or what you saw in Vietnam, Afghanistan, or Iraq, you may find yourself unpleasantly surprised when it takes a different face. Experience is useful, only when it is used as a springboard metric for improvement through further training.

“Hey, I recognize that trouble can occur. It will probably NOT look like what I’ve experienced, so let me look around, do some serious studying, and see what it probably IS going to look like.”

I’m a historian. I see and recognize the parallels between the TEOTWAWKI we are experiencing, and the TEOTWAWKI other empires have faced in the past. Expecting the Vandals to come through the gates, on horseback, swinging swords and lances, behind war banners and a single leader though, would be a hindrance. I recognize that the Vandals, this time around, are already here, and more are en route daily, not under one leader, but with a common shared cause, that includes marginalization and disenfranchisement of people like me. They’re not armed with swords and lances. They’re armed with computers, reporters in their pockets, guns, and IED.

Experience is a teacher, but we have to let it teach us.

Last Open Enrollment Classes, Probably

We’ve got a few open-enrollment classes coming up in the next two months. We’ve so far had enough interest in them to go ahead and still plan executing on the classes, but we’ve had little enough interest that it’s really pushing the envelope of whether it’s worth it or not, from a time investment standpoint on our end. If we don’t get at least a few more students in each class, these will be the last open-enrollment classes I do.

When we started the MG blog, three or four years ago (legit, I sometimes can’t remember how long it’s been), it was never intended to be a vehicle for training classes anyway. So, if you know someone who can make these classes and will benefit from some legitimate, real-world training in solid tactical decision-making, under stress, while employing their weapon in the contexts of these classes, tell them to get lined up with HH6, and get their information and deposits in.

So, what exactly does a MG class entail?

1) It will be physically arduous. That having been said, no one has ever died, or even come close to dying, from drowning in sweat during one of my classes. I’ll be the first to tell you to back off and actually learn, instead of pushing to the point of passing out, if it looks like you’re sucking too much.

2) You will learn the current “best practices” for running whatever weapon you bring (and in the context of the CQB courses), the current “best practices” methodologies for fighting in/around structures in the UW/Small-Unit environment, with limited equipment/munitions and manpower.

3) Every MG class focuses on that single most important factor in shooting in the real-world: critical thinking under pressure and good decision-making on the shoot/no-shoot spectrum. This is NOT the tired “hey, shoot the guys with guns painted on the silhouette. Don’t shoot the dude with hands painted on him” decision-making you’ve seen in too many “tactical” shooting classes. Real-world shooting decisions aren’t that cut-and-dried, and teaching people that they are does the student a disservice that WILL result in negative outcomes in the form of either a) the shooter shooting the WRONG person, or b) the shooter taking so long to make the real-world types of decisions that he/she ends up getting shot instead.

Take a look at the Upcoming Classes tab, and get enrolled. Like I said, these may very well be the last open-enrollment classes we offer.

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