(A reader posted a comment recently, asking for a description of the content of Forging the Hero. This article, while serving as a stand-alone, does a pretty good job of explaining the WHY of Forging the Hero. It’s about recognizing WHAT is going on, determining HOW we can best face the threats resulting from the WHAT, and then determining HOW to achieve that.
Both the book, and this article, are going to cause a metric fuck-ton of butthurt in the preparedness, survival, and “Liberty” communities. Tough shit.)
One of the mantras I had drilled into my head as a young NCO in the special operations world was, “think strategic, plan operational, fight tactical.” That’s something I’ve mentioned, probably in passing, on this blog before, but it’s something that really needs to be emphasized far more often, in preparedness planning. The lack of strategic thinking and planning, including the development of a basic strategic goal for preparedness, is something that is all too often, tellingly absent in prepper planning and actions.
The Oxford Dictionary defines strategy, first among several definitions, as “a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.” Thus, in order to “think strategic,” we need to develop a plan of action or policy that is designed to allow us to achieve our overall aim. What is your overall aim?
For many in the preparedness world, the simple, primary answer is, “I want to survive!” Well, I’m sorry, but I’ve got a newsflash for you: that is a dead-end, no-win goal. The one thing I can say, with absolute certitude is, “you’re going to die.” I’m going to die. My kids are going to die. Their kids are going to die. The one sure bet is, we’re all going to die. We need a far larger goal than “I want to survive!” We need a greater—more important—goal than simply, “I want to survive!”
Some will instantly latch on to the “I want a return to the Constitution!” argument. That’s cool. It’s completely ignorant of history and reality, but it’s cool. Who gets to define what the Constitution says? You? What if I—and the rest of America—don’t agree with your definitions? What if you and I agree, but no one else does?
Perhaps we should allow the Founding Fathers to tell us what it means? I hope you’re not using their definition of “freedom” and constitutionality to oppose the “militarization” of police and the arming of tax collectors though… After all, George Washington used the Army of the United States to crush a tax revolt, less than three years after the Constitution was ratified. Or, perhaps you understand what the Constitution was supposed to mean, better than Poppa G?
Or, maybe you think the Constitution says you should be able to grab a bunch of your homeboys, gun-the-fuck up, and go stage an invasion of another state, to force a return to Constitutional law? Obviously then, you know more about what the Constitution is supposed to mean than they did in the 1790s, when at least a dozen different, state-commissioned militia commanders from Kentucky County, Virginia were prosecuted by the State of Virginia (under governors like Henry Lee…who fought in the Revolution…) for leading their forces outside of the borders of the state, in pursuit of hostile Indian forces, without the specific authorization of the governor or the President…
We could argue that “I want a return to the Constitution!” is a valid goal for preparedness and survival, but again…by whose definition?
I would—and have, and do—argue that the goal of preparedness, in the midst of the ongoing decline of the American Empire, should not be a “return” to the Constitution, nor survival of the individual(s). Rather, the end-game goal of preparedness should be the survival of the cultural values that you hold dear and sacred. The problem with that thesis, of course, is that the cultural values you hold sacred may be not only different, but even diametrically opposed to those I hold sacred, or someone else holds sacred. How do we define whose cultural values get to survive, and whose get kicked to the curb?
The simple answer is the correct answer, according to the greater part of the collective human experience, over the last 200,000 years of anatomically-modern human social development: it’s about your community. Quit worrying about other people’s values, and focus on the survival of the values of your friends and family. Quit trying to impose your beliefs and supposed moral superiority on other people, and teach the children of your community what you believe are superior moral values. If you’re right, it will prove out in the end, by the success of your community, and others nearby will start looking at why your community is successful, and will follow suit. Voila! Your moral supremacy wins out in the end. If you’re wrong? Then your community will fail, because your morality was unsustainable in the real world. The people within your community will look elsewhere for cultural values that work for them, and will go there.
If we define our strategic end-game goal—our “major or overall aim”—as “the survival of my community/tribe/church’s cultural values,” then we can begin developing a strategy for achieving that goal. Or, you can stick to “I want to survive!” or “I want to return to the Constitution!” as your strategic end-game “major or overall aim.” Regardless, in order to have a strategy, you have to have that end-game goal.
How Do We Achieve It?
For the sake of argument—and because it’s my fucking blog—we’re going to look at the very sensible, very achievable “my end-game goal is the survival of my community/tribe/church’s cultural values,” for this article. How do we achieve that?
The standard response in the preparedness community seems to fall along the lines of “gun up, talk about getting training, and be ready to shoot people!” or “Bitch and whine about how the government is not protecting us from the incursion of foreign values!” to the perennial favorite, “everybody wants a revolution, yeah! Everybody wants to change the world!” (I probably dicked up those lyrics. Not my music or my band…).
Let’s look at these, and then let’s look at a sensible, historically proven model…
“gun up, talk about getting training, and be ready to shoot people!” Valid….ish… One of the common characteristics that history and archaeology tell us that the decline of civilizations and empires share is, the increase of violence. Whether by the imperial power, in its grasp to maintain legitimacy, or the rise of aggressive, militant new powers, or the internecine struggles of groups within the collapsing empire, trying to control things around them, violence just…is. While your ancestors probably dealt with this with swords, spears, and archery tackle of one sort or another, the rifle is the spear of today, and the pistol is the modern man’s sword.
We should be armed, because if we aren’t, we’re subject to the whims of those who are. That means, their cultural values survive, and ours don’t. While it’s commonly believed that “all men are created, but Sam Colt made them equal,” that’s really only partially correct. Sam Colt, like the Constitution, didn’t make men equal. He provided them with equal opportunity to be lethal. To grossly misquote the late Jeff Cooper, “Owning a gun doesn’t make you a gunfighter, anymore than owning a guitar makes you Jimi Hendrix.”
HH6 and I used to know a dude with a safe full of guns: expensive guns, like custom 1911s and match-grade M14s, and a .338 Lapua Magnum from Surgeon Rifles that I’d have given up a testicle to own. I got to finger-fuck his Surgeon Rifle one day. When I mounted the gun to my shoulder, you know what I saw? The mounted scope was canted somewhere between 30 and 45 degrees. I turned and asked him if the rifle was zeroed or not. “What? What’s that? I’ve never even shot that thing! You know how expensive that ammunition is!?”
I hope of course, that anyone still reading this blog IS shooting, and training, regularly, with any firearms they own, but…I’d be surprised, if I had the ability to do so, if I peaked in on everyone and saw that every single one of you reading this was actually doing any sort of training with your guns. So, yeah, lots of people talk about getting training, but I know for a fact that most don’t. I don’t teach a lot of classes. I’m not interested in teaching a lot of classes. I have other, far more important things—from the perspective of my tribe—to do. I talk to a lot of trainers in the industry though. If all of you were training regularly, or even just training once a year and practicing the rest of the time, we’d know. We’d see it in your performance at the classes you do attend, and every class any of us taught would be turning away prospective students. That’s not happening, because people talk about getting training (for the record, in 2015, I attended training courses under three different instructors, so I’m not just talking shit).
Finally, shooting bad people in the face is an important ability to have. Unfortunately, in the course of the decline, we’re going to spend a lot more time not shooting bad people in the face than we are going to spend doing so. If your solution to the survival of your community’s cultural values focuses on that, you’re either a) sociopathic, and need to be put down for the betterment of the world, b) are living in some sort of first-person shooter video game alternate reality, or c) are 12 years old and have no experience in the real world.
I’m a lot more impressed with the prepper that brags to me about how successful her garden is, than the dude who brags about his tight shot group—although I’d rather she bragged about both, honestly. I’m far more impressed with the young couple who is raising 90% of the food they consume, while he works a full-time job outside the home, and she works a full-time job at home, raising and educating their kids in their cultural values, than I am the corporate wage slave who sets aside XX% of his income each month to buy stuff that he hopes will help him survive. The difference? In both cases, the smart people are living life now, rather than thinking about living life in some dystopian future that is actually already occurring around them.
“I want to return to the Constitution!” There’s really nothing wrong with this goal, on the surface. I love and adore the values enshrined in the Constitution. Limited, representative government, individual liberty and responsibility, etc. I’m all for it. Unfortunately, too often, those who voice the loudest cries for this have apparently never even read the goddamned document, let alone the surrounding documents. As historians, we have two basic sets of resources we can utilize, primary and secondary sources.
Primary sources are actual documents and records that have survived from the era of study. Examples include letters, books and magazines, artwork, tools and equipment, and clothing, among others. Secondary sources are accounts retelling what happened, often written long after the events occurred. Reading a modern historian—or worse, politician or activist—writing about the goals and aims of the Founding Fathers is not as legitimate, from the historian’s perspective, as reading the actual documents written by the Founding Fathers.
At the same time however, we have to recognize that the culture of colonial, Revolutionary, and post-Revolutionary America, was considerably different than the culture of modern America. Our understanding of the precise meaning of words can be aided through the use of a primary source such as a contemporary dictionary, but our actual understanding of the contextual meaning of the words needs to be developed through developing an understanding of how the Founding era USED those words.
The fact is, most of what passes for “Constitutional Scholarship” in this country, is intentionally polemic drivel, from both sides of the false political dialectic. Worse yet, it’s just not important.
The Constitution of the United States of America is a piece of parchment with some ink stains on it. Period. Full-stop, end-of-story. The Constitution is not important.What is important, regardless of which side of the contemporary dialectic you fall on, are the values embodied in that document.
That sounds pretty fucking heretical and unpatriotic, but it’s true. If some Mohammedan jihadist detonated a “dirty” bomb in the middle of the National Archives building tomorrow, and the physical Constitution was destroyed, the spirit of that document—the values enshrined in it—would still hold merit, right? So, it’s not the Constitution we value—it’s the values enshrined in it. That’s what is awesome about the Constitution…it’s simple, which means it’s actually pretty robust. Anyone of average intelligence can memorize the exact verbiage of the entire document, including all twenty-seven amendments, in a week or two of devoted effort (I know this for a fact. An entire class of thirty students was required to do so for a school project, when I was in the eighth-grade. Not a single one of us failed the examination. None of us were stupid, but we weren’t MENSA members either.).
The secret to the survival of the cultural values of the Constitution is not some American Re-Revolution. The secret to the survival of the cultural values of the Constitution is for people to start LIVING those values again. If you focus on your local community, and I focus on my local community, and John Smith focuses on his local community, guess what? In our communities, those values will survive.
In Forging the Hero, the explanation I offer for this is pretty simple. If you vote for Mayor Smith, he knows he’s accountable to you, the voting public. If he fucks up too egregiously, he knows he can be reached. If Senator Sam goes to Washington, DC, and fucks up, chances are, none of his constituents are going to drive to DC, track down where he stays in the District, and cause him physical pain. Mayor Smith though? He knows he can be reached. Whether that’s him getting voted out in a recall election, or some pissed off ol’ boy curb stomping him on the steps of City Hall, before the local police can restrain him, or it’s some random voter hiding in the shrubs next to the Mayor’s driveway, and emptying a 12-gauge in his ear, as he parks his car at the end of the night, the Mayor knows he can be reached. He’s got to stay accountable—as long as the people in his county make sure he knows they’re going to keep him accountable.
That’s the problem with focusing on your community though; it makes it too real. It can work, but in order for it to work, you’ve got to be willing to do, and that requires dedication and effort. If it can work, then people might actually have to make it work, and that is scary. It requires effort. It’s easier to scream at the cable news commentators who are bloviating about how your presidential candidate is going to fix the problems POTUS created, using the exact same methods you’re pissed off about POTUS using. It’s easier to scream about “Constitution!” than it is to actually read the fucking document, and think about how it is supposed to actually work (I’ll give you a hint…the President is supposed to “preside” over the executive branch as it “executes” the “legislation” that the legislative branch passed. The executive branch may create regulations regarding how that legislation is executed, but the President really isn’t supposed to DO much to change a damned thing.)
If you want a “return to the Constitution,” politically, I suggest focusing on your local community government first. If you want a return of the values enshrined in the Constitution? Then start fucking living them. If you want “freedom of religion and expression?” Then practice your religion, and say what you want to say…but be ready to let others do the same. If you want the freedom to keep and bear arms? Then fucking keep and bear arms. If you don’t want people peering into your documents? Then use fucking encryption on your email, and quit posting your personal details all over fucking Facebook and social media. Etc, etc, etc.
“Everybody wants a revolution, yeah! Everybody wants to change the world!” One of the most common refrains I read on the Internet, and hear in classes, is “people are sheep! Nobody is aware! It’s hopeless!” I’m here to tell you, that’s bullshit. Everybody—EVERYBODY—knows “shit just ain’t right.” From the Social Justice Warrior, college kid, to the middle-aged socialist utopian dreamer, to the farmer at your local feed store; everybody knows the system is falling apart around them. They may not know the solution—and a lot of them that do have a solution, have a really fucked up, demonstrably wrong solution—but every-fucking swinging dick KNOWS that shit is coming apart around them.
The problem is that everybody is still stuck in the false dialectic of the modern political system. “Oh, if we can get our guy elected, he’ll fix it all.” “Well, I’ll vote for this guy, ’cause he’s the lesser of two evils, and if you don’t vote, you can’t bitch!”
Point the first: It’s a cliché, but it’s a cliché precisely because it is true: voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil. If you vote for evil, you really have no excuse for being surprised when the guy you voted for turns out to be a douchecanoe.
Point the second: “If you don’t vote, you can’t bitch” is a bullshit meme, created to keep people supporting the false dialectic. If you vote, you’re giving your consent. You’re saying, in effect, “I recognize the legitimacy of this process.” If you vote, you’ve got zero legitimate reason to bitch. You played the game and you lost. You got stuck inside their box.
One of the biggest issues I see among people today, is the fact that they’re stuck in this trap and don’t even recognize it. Even otherwise smart people, bitching about Progressives and Socialists…This shit is not new or novel. It didn’t originate in 1917. It didn’t originate in 1848 (publication of The Communist Manifesto). Every empire in the history of mankind has gone through the exact same issue. The Romans had their Conservative and Progressive party as well, and they bickered and fought over the exact same issues ours do.
You know which party survived the decline of the Roman Empire? Neither fucking one. It was the dudes who didn’t give a shit about what they were doing in Rome (and later, Ravenna, when Rome was no longer the seat of political power in the Empire), but focused on the situation in their local communities. The people and the cultures that survived the decline of the Roman Empire didn’t revolt against Rome…they existed outside of the Empire, even when geographically, they were in the middle of the Empire.
Too many preppers focus on the short-term. They want to learn tactics, which is fine. If you don’t have tactics, you can’t execute your strategy. The problem is, strategy drives operations, and operations drive tactics. In The Reluctant Partisan, Volume One: The Guerrilla (https://readfomag.com/product/the-reluctant-partisan-vol-1-the-guerrilla/)this was discussed, in brief, before we started discussing tactics. In Forging the Hero, I returned to this, in more detail, before discussing the strategy of ensuring the survival of the cultural values of your community of friends and family.
You need to develop a strategy, before you can even begin to understand what operations—and thus, what tactics—are relevant. If you don’t have a strategy driving your operations and tactics, you’re pissing in the wind, and playing Whack-A-Mole. If you’re playing Whack-A-Mole, you’re probably the mole, even without recognizing it. For those unfamiliar with the game, that means, you’re waiting to get smashed in the fucking head with a big club. I’m no expert on getting hit in the head—wait a minute, who am I fooling, yes I am. Let me try again…I’ve been hit in the head a lot. It hurts. I don’t recommend it. If you want to avoid it, and learn from my mistakes, don’t get hit in the head.
Determine what your strategic end-game goal is, and then you have the tool to begin developing a strategy. When you know what your strategy is going to be, you can determine what operations will best help achieve that strategy (chances are, it’s not going to involve nearly the amount of gunplay that most preppers believe it will, although even a little suggests the importance of getting training, right?). Once you know the operations you will need to master to achieve your strategy (I’d suggest self-reliant living skills/homesteading skills, even in the city, would be a really swell place to start), then you can determine what tactics will allow you to complete those operations (determining WHAT type of crops and livestock will survive in your backyard, and what materials you should stockpile to expand into the neighbors’ yards, when they no longer have jobs, and cannot afford their mortgages, so they move in with mommy and daddy. I suggest rabbits. They’re quieter than chickens, and provide a metric fuck-ton of meat—pun certainly intended).