Victoria: Chapter 5

About a week later I got a letter. It was from my old company Gunnery Sergeant, a black fellow and a good Marine. He was also a husband and father—rare among black males by the 21st century—and a Christian. He wrote to ask for my help.

Gunny Matthews had gotten out about a year before I did. He had done his twenty years and had a pension, and felt it was time to move on. He knew that the catastrophe that had overwhelmed many urban black communities in America by the 1970s—crime, drugs, noise, and dirt—was not due to “white racism.” It was due to bad behavior by blacks, toward other blacks as well as toward everyone else. He wanted to try to do something about it.

It was a measure of America’s decay that one of the most important issues facing the country—race—simply couldn’t be talked about. Not honestly, anyway. Oh, there was lots of talk about “racism” and how evil it was and how whites were to blame for everybody else’s problems. But we all knew it was bull.

The fact was that America’s blacks had crapped in their own mess kit. They had been given their “civil rights,” and had promptly shown they could not, or would not, bear the responsibilities that went with them.

Freedom is not doing whatever you want. Freedom is substituting self discipline in place of discipline imposed by somebody else. But nobody told America’s blacks that, so they just went out and did whatever felt good at the moment. The result was a black rate of violent crime twelve times the white rate. Most of the victims of black crime were also black.

Of course, not all blacks were into instant gratification and the drug-using, drug-dealing, mugging, car-jacking, fornicating, and whoring that it brought. But tribal loyalty was strong enough that most of those who lived decent lives wouldn’t condemn those who didn’t. The rest of America saw that in every city with a black government, which promptly descended into utter disorder and corruption. Detroit turned into 6th century Rome.

As early as the 1970s, the average white American spelled black c-r-i-m-e. That wasn’t prejudice, it was statistics. Anywhere near a city, if you were the victim of a random crime, the criminal was almost certain to be black. The only exception was if you were in a Hispanic neighborhood; the Hispanics were rapidly going the same instant gratification route the blacks had taken, with similar results.

Obviously, what was needed was a major crackdown. If a people cannot govern itself, then it must be governed by others. But the white Establishment hewed to the line that said blacks were “victims,” so their crimes could not be held against them. It was pure Orwellian Newspeak: criminals became victims, and the victims (at least the white victims) were the criminals because they were “racists.” So nothing was done, and blacks were emboldened to believe they could get away with anything.

The result, in time, was a full scale race war, which was in turn part of America’s second civil war. The blacks’ so-called “leaders,” most of whom derived fat incomes from their impoverished supporters, never seemed to care that when one tenth of the population goads the other nine-tenths into a war, it loses.

So Gunny Matthews had taken on quite a job. His letter told me how he’d tried to go about it.

The Gunny had grown up in Roxbury, near Boston, so that’s where he retired, “to help the people he knew best,” as he put it. There’s always advantage in fighting where you know the ground. A number of his friends and relatives lived in public housing, so he picked that as his Schwerpunkt, his focus of efforts. In most black communities, that was the worst place you could be. Drug dealers, drug users, prostitutes, the whole ugly smear ran the place, with normal people living in terror.

I’d seen in my job hunt the way government stuck its nose in where it wasn’t wanted, messing up people’s lives in the process. Gunny Matthews saw the other side of the coin, how government failed to do the things it was supposed to do. If there was one duty any government had, it was to protect the lives and property of ordinary, law-abiding people, regardless of their color. In the United States in the 21st century, it no longer did that.

The Gunny saw the problem in terms of counter-guerilla warfare. The scum were the guerrillas, and the key to defeating them was organizing the locals so they could stand up to the scum. He saw an opening, a “soft spot” as we called it in military tactics, in the fact that one public housing development had been given over to the tenants to manage. They formed a tenants’ association, and the Gunny helped them draw up rules for tenant behavior, a patrol system that tracked and reported violators, and liaison with the police. As soon as they identified a drug dealer or other scumbag, they got witnesses, brought the cops in and threw the trash out, permanently. Very quickly the place turned around. For the first time in years, the nights were not punctured with gun shots, there were no hypodermic needles in the halls and kids could play safely outside.

Then the feds came in, in the form of the Legal Services Corporation. Legal Services used tax money to pay lawyers to defend “the poor” in court. Only they had no interest in the honest poor. They were always on the side of the scum. They quickly went to court and stopped the evictions, on the grounds that the “rights” of the drug dealers and their molls were being violated. Just as quickly, the drug dealing, mugging and shooting started up again, and Gunny Matthews and his tenants’ association were back where they started.

He asked me to come down and give them some help. I knew how to fight enemy infantrymen, not lawyers and judges. But I also knew I couldn’t ignore the Gunny’s plea. If I was going to do something to take our country back, this was a place to start. So one snowy February day I loaded up the truck and headed to Boston. On the way, I did some thinking.

This wasn’t law, I realized, this was war. The Legal Services lawyers, the liberal judges who gave them the rulings they wanted, their buddies in the ACLU, they were just enemy units of different types. More, they were the enemy’s “critical vulnerability.” The scum depended on them; no lawyers, no scum (a point we have enshrined in Victorian law, where you must represent yourself in court). The tenants had already shown they could kick out the trash, if we could get the lawyers off their backs. So that had to be our objective.

The Gunny had set up a meeting with the tenants’ association for the night I arrived. They were a pretty down lot when it started. One mother of three kids, the association’s leader, tried not to cry when she explained how they thought they’d made a new start, then had it all taken away from them, thanks to Legal Services. They didn’t know what they could do, now. If I could help, they’d be grateful. But it’s clear they weren’t expecting much from a white boy from Maine.

“Okay,” I said, “here’s where we start. You’re in a war. You know that. You’ve got the bullet holes in your walls and doors to prove it. What we have to do is take the war to the enemy.”

“Amen, brother,” was the answer. “Are we gonna start shootin’ those lawyers?” one voice asked.

“That’s tempting,” I replied. “But you know that while they won’t put the drug dealers in jail, the law will come after honest citizens in a heartbeat. We’ve got to fight, but we’ve got to fight smart.”

I laid out a plan. The starting point was one of Colonel John Boyd’s maxims. Boyd was the greatest American military theorist of the 20th century. He said war is fought at three levels: moral, mental, and physical. The moral level is the most powerful, the physical the least (The old American military, in its love for hi-tech, could never understand that, which is why it kept getting beaten by ragheads all around the world.). We would focus our war at the moral level, and use the physical only as it had moral impact.

We’d start with the churches. Most of the black folk who were on the receiving end of black crime were Christians. We’d mobilize the Church Ladies—a Panzer division in this kind of fighting. We’d get them and the black ministers to go to white churches all over Boston and invite their congregations to visit the housing project. We’d let them see what those Legal Services lawyers and their friends among the judges and politicians were protecting. We’d take them through the drug markets, past the prostitutes, over the dazed, crazed addicts lying in the hallways. Then we’d ask them one question: Would they tolerate these people living in their neighborhoods? On the way out, we’d hand them a list of the names of their elected representatives with phone numbers.

The key judge, the one who always ruled in favor of the scumbags, was a federal magistrate, Judge Holland P. Frylass. We couldn’t touch him through the ballot box. But I thought there was another way. He was keen on making the folks in the projects live among the drug dealers and muggers and carjackers, but I suspected he would prefer not to do so himself. So we’d hold a raffle. We’d get black kids selling raffle tickets all over Boston. The proceeds would go to purchase the house next door to Judge Frylass’, in that nice section of Cambridge. We’d move in some drug dealers, whores, and gang members and see how he liked a taste of his own medicine.

Then a young mother, carrying one baby with two more grabbing at her coattails, spoke up. “That’s all fine, I guess,” she said. “But I got a drug dealer workin’ right outside my door. Somebody come after him, those bullets will shoot right through my walls and my babies and me. What you gonna do about him?”

“Swarm him,” I answered. The physical level of war also had its role to play.

“What you mean, swarm him?” she asked.

“Wherever he goes, or stops, we surround him. Twenty, thirty, fifty of us. We don’t touch him. We’re just there. We’re always there. We’re on every side of him. How much business do you think he’s going to do?”

“And just what do we do when he starts hittin’ out?” asked another woman in the crowd.

“Someone will always have a cell phone. He makes a move, we get it on camera. Then the cops can come in,” I replied.

But they knew the ground better than I did. “Hon’, we appreciate you comin’ all the way down here,” began one matron. “I think you’ve got some ideas we maybe can use. But this sure ain’t no boxin’ match. When these boys hit out, it’s with guns. Some of us gonna be dead if we try swarmin’ ʻem like you want.”

Now, I knew how to use a weapon, and I guessed I could shoot better than the average drug dealer. But I also knew I’d be the one in jail, not the drug dealer, if I got in a fire fight. And for a young, white, middle class male, jail in the 21st century meant homosexual gang rape. It was funny that the same bleeding-heart lefties who opposed the death penalty never made a peep about a punishment that would have appalled Vlad the Impaler. But I wasn’t anxious to have the joke be on me.

Gunny Matthews came to my rescue. “You folks know I’ve got a good relationship with the cops. You let me work on that one. I’ll get us some protection, protection that can shoot back. My question to you folks is, are you willing to do what the man says? We can talk here all night. But we’ve got to act, not just keep talking. Or give up.”

Das wesentliche ist die Tat. Always, in war, that’s what it comes down to. The important thing is the deed.

The Panzers were ready for battle. One of the Church Ladies got up. She was dressed perfectly for a shopping trip to Filene’s in 1955: floral print dress, pillbox hat, white gloves. “I can speak for my church,” said Mrs. Cook. “They sent me here as our representative. I don’t know whether it will work or not. But the Lord blesses those who try. He may bless us with success, and he will still bless us if we fail. I say we do it.” She turned to the young mother with the drug dealer camped outside her door. “Honey, I’m an old lady. If that bad man outside your apartment shoots me, I’m ready to go to Heaven. I’ll ʻswarmʼ him, as the man here says, even if I have to do it all by myself.”

“You don’t have to, Melba.” Her neighbor in the project was on her feet, in similar uniform, which events came to show was Urban Combat cammies. “I’ll be there too. I’ve got a heavy purse and a strong umbrella, and I know how to use both of them. We’ll ‘swarm’ this no-account piece of nigger trash all the way back to Alabama.”

With that the congregation were on their feet, Amening and Halleluliaing. I could understand now why, back in the 1950’s, so many Americans were enraged by the South’s segregation laws. It was the Mrs. Cooks they’d made sit in the back of the bus. If young blacks had tried to be like Mrs. Cook, integration might have worked.

What a pity so many chose Malcolm X and Snoop Dogg as their heroes instead.

Victoria: Chapter 4

My next battle started around the dinner table on Christmas Day, 2016, and I’m not talking about the fight for the last piece of Aunt Sabra’s blueberry pie.

It began when cousin John asked me what I thought I was going to do in the way of earning a living. Hartland wasn’t exactly a boom town, and hadn’t been for a good hundred years. I said I was thinking of farming. That, along with sailing or soldiering, was what we Rumfords usually ended up doing, and like most Marines I’d seen enough of boats to last me a while.

“What you gonna faam?” John asked, the flat, nasal “a” instead of “r” suggesting he hadn’t been outside Maine much.

“Waal,” I said, talking Down East myself, “I thought I might try soybeans.”

“Don’t see them much up heah.”

“Didn’t see wine up heah either ‘til Wyly put in his vineyard. I gather his wine is selling pretty well now,” I said.

“I’ll tell you why you don’t see soybeans up here or on many other family farms,” said Uncle Fred. “It’s oil from soybeans that makes money, and the federal government makes it just about impossible to transport soybean oil or any other vegetable oil unless you’re a big corporation. Under federal regulations, vegetable oil is treated the same as oil from petroleum when it comes to shipment. You’ve got to get a hugely expensive Certificate of Financial Responsibility to cover any possible oil spill. You’ll never get the capital to get started.”

“But vegetable oil and petroleum are completely different. That doesn’t make any sense,” I replied.

“I didn’t say it made sense, I just said that’s what Washington demands. It makes no sense at all. Spilled vegetable oil is no big problem. It’s biodegradable. But the federal government mandates a spill be cleaned up the same way for both, even though that’s unnecessary. You need to scoop up any petroleum product if it spills, especially into water. But if you just let vegetable oil disperse, bacteria will eat it up. Anyway, the government doesn’t care that we lose hundreds of millions of dollars each year in vegetable oil that isn’t produced or exported. The bottom line is, as a small farmer, you can’t do it.”

Great, I thought. First politics gets me thrown out of the Marine Corps, now it’s trying to keep me from farming. “Okay, I’ll grow potatoes. We certainly grow enough of those here in Maine,” I said.

“Only land up at the Old Place that’ll grow potatoes is the bottom land. Government won’t let you do that neither,” said cousin John.

This was starting to get old. “What do you mean the government won’t let me grow down there? That’s the best land on the place. The rest is just rock,” I replied.

“It’s the EPA, the so-called ‘Environmental Protection Agency,” answered Uncle Fred. “They declared all that ground a ‘protected wetland‘ a couple years ago. It’s yours, or ours, but it might as well be on the moon for all the good it does us. We can’t touch it.”

Protected wetland? Hell, I didn’t plan to grow potatoes in the ponds. “That’s our property. We’ve owned it since Andrew Jackson was President. And most of it’s dry. How can they tell us we can’t farm it?” I asked, betraying how much those of us in the military got out of touch at times.

That got the whole table smiling the thin smile that passes for a good laugh among New Englanders. “Property rights don’t mean squat any more,” said Uncle Earl, who was the town lawyer. “The government just tells you what to do or what not to do and dares you to fight them. They have thousands of lawyers, all paid by your tax money, and they can tie you up in court for years. You got a few hundred thousand extra dollars you’d like to spend on legal fees?”

I didn’t, nor did anyone else, I gathered. “So we’re helpless, is what you’re saying?” I asked.

“Pretty much, unless you’ve got a lot of money for lawyers or to buy some politicians and get them in on your side,” said Earl. “It doesn’t even matter if the law is with you, because you can’t afford the fight and they can. If they lose, it means nothing to them; they still get their paychecks from the government. If you lose, you’re finished, and even if you win, you’re usually finished because the legal fight has left you bankrupt. What it comes down to is that we’re not a free country any more.”

“What King George III was doing to us in 1776 wasn’t a hill of beans compared to this,” I said. “We didn’t take it then. Why are we taking it now?”

At that point, the women turned the conversation to how Ma’s stuffing was the best they’d ever had. It always was.

***

Early next year, that year being 2017, I stopped in at Hartland’s one industry, the tannery. My old high school buddy Jim Ebbitt was the personnel department there, and this matter of earning an income was beginning to press a bit on my mind. But I knew the tannery always had some kind of opening, and after my years in the infantry I didn’t mind getting my hands dirty. They didn’t call us “earth pigs” for nothing.

Jim was glad to see me, but he couldn’t give me any good news. “Sorry,” he said, “but like every American company, we’re having to cut jobs, not add ʻem. The problem is this “free trade” business. What it means is that American workers are up against those in places like Mexico, Haiti, and now all of central and south America, since they expanded NAFTA into AFTA and took in the whole hemisphere. Labor costs now get averaged across national boundaries; it pulls their wages up and pushes wages here down. Of course, we don’t actually cut wages, but with inflation rising, we don’t need to. We just keep wages steady and cut the number of jobs. Maybe that will keep this plant in business. Then again, maybe it won’t. In any event, it means if I had a job to offer you, and I don’t, you’d quickly find yourself getting poorer, not richer, if you took it.”

“But you just put a lot of money into this plant,” I replied. “Hell, it used to stink up the whole town. Now you can’t smell it. Maybe that EPA does some good after all.”

“You think so?” asked Jim. “You’re right that we had to clean up our processes here, and we did put some money into the place. But the main thing we did was move most of the work on the fresh hides to Mexico. That cut 23 jobs here, jobs now held by Mexicans. I guess you can’t make Mexico stink any worse than it already does.”

“And the EPA still isn’t done with us,” he added. “They’ve got another investigation going now, which will cost us tens of thousands in legal fees even if that’s all it does. Seems they think we’re still doing something to the river.”

“River looks clean to me,” I replied.

“It is clean. It’s cleaner than it’s ever been, at least since industry, and jobs, first came to this valley. But that doesn’t count to bureaucrats in Washington. They’ve told us we might have to build a full water treatment plant, which would cost us millions. If they rule that way, it’ll be the end of the company here. It would take us 50 years to pay off that debt. There’s not that much money in leather any more, not up against the foreign competition.”

I thanked Jim for his time and drove back to the Old Place. My mind was no easier. Next day I’d pull my last ace out of my sleeve and go see my cousin, who had a car restoration place down near Pittsfield. I knew he was doing well, restoring old cars and selling them to the Summer People.

“Sure,” Ed said, when I stopped in on him, “business is good and I need a couple folk. I know you’d do good work. But I can’t offer you or anyone else around here a job. EEOC won’t let me.”

“EEOC?” I’d heard the initials, but didn’t know much more about it.

“The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They come around and tell you how many blacks, Hispanics, women, whatever you have to hire. Of course, all my employees are white, because everybody up here is white. I guess Maine winters are kinda hard on black folk and those from south of the border. Anyway, that doesn’t count with them. They’ve issued an order that the next six people I hire must be blacks. The effect, of course, is that I can’t hire anyone, not even you.”

This was the nuttiest thing I’d heard yet. “You must be kidding,” I replied. “How can they make you hire blacks where there aren’t any?”

“I don’t know,” Ed said. “But I can’t fight the EEOC in court. I’m a small business and can’t afford it. I just can’t expand, is what it comes down to. And you know how badly we need jobs up here.”

I did, from growing personal experience. “But someone must care that this is completely absurd,” I said. “There has got to be a limit somewhere to what Washington can do to us.”

“If there is, I don’t know where,” Ed replied, obviously a beaten man.

“You and I, and most folk up here, are members of the middle class. That means the government doesn’t do anything for us, it only does things to us. If you know a way to change that, I’d like to hear it. But these days, unless you’re some kind of “minority,” you don’t have any rights. Frankly, it’s just not our country any more.”

That summed it up pretty well. Somewhere along the line, in the last 30 years or so, somebody had taken our country away from us.
We remembered what our country was like. It was a safe, decent, prosperous place where normal, middle class people could live good lives.

And it was gone.

I was beginning to think that what I wanted to do was help take our country back. How I could do that, and how I could earn a living, were both puzzles. But where there’s a will, God often opens a way.

Victoria: Chapter 3

One nice thing about Maine is that you can go home again. We Rumfords had been doing it for a couple hundred years. The men of our family, and sometimes the women too, would head out on their great adventure—crewing on a clipper bound for China, settling Oregon, converting the heathen (Uncle Bert got eaten in the Congo), going to war—but those who survived usually came back home again to Hartland and its surrounding farms.

Whether they returned as successes or failures made little difference. As I’d heard a chaplain say, in his day Jesus Christ was accounted a spectacular failure, so failure wasn’t something for Christians to worry much about. We had enough in our family to show we didn’t. I was just the most recent.

I wanted time alone to read, think, and simply live. I moved into what we called “The Old Place,” a shingle Cape Cod up on one of Maine’s few hills. The view down over the fields and ponds somehow helped the thinking part, especially in the evening as the water reflected the western sky, orange and crimson, fading to black.

No one had lived in the old place since my grandparents died, but we kept it because it had always been ours. It had no electricity, and the well worked with a bucket on a windless; by modern standards I guess it wasn’t a fit habitation. That suited me fine. I was tired of everything modern. I wanted a world with, as Tolkien put it, less noise and more green.

I’d put some money by during my time in the Corps, enough to cover me for some months anyway; the garden and deer in season (or, if need be, out of season) would keep me from starving. The whole country was overrun with deer, more than when white men first came to North America, because there were so many restrictions on guns and hunting. In some places they had become pests; we literally could not defend ourselves from our own food.

Once I got settled, I took up Professor Sanft’s books, “that golden chain of masterpieces which link together in single tradition the more permanent experiences of the race,” as one philosopher put it. Homer and Plato, Aristotle and Aristophanes, Virgil and Dante, and Shakespeare and the greatest literary work of all time, the Bible, which was once banned from American schools, which shows as well as anything what America had become.

I had some trouble getting going—Plato isn’t light reading—but I found my way in through my life-long study, war, beginning with the Anabasis of Xenophon. What a story! Ten thousand Greeks, cut off and surrounded in the middle of their ancient enemy, the Persian Empire, have to hack and march their way back out again—and they made it home. It was as exciting as anything Rommel or “Panzer” Meyer or any other modern commander wrote.

From Xenophon and Herodotus and Thucydides and Caesar and Tacitus and all the rest, military and not (I did finally make it through Plato, too), I learned three things. Maybe they were basic, even simple. I’m not a great philosopher. But they were important enough to shape the rest of my life.

The first was that these ancient Greeks and Romans and Hebrews and more modern Florentines and Frenchmen and Englishmen both were us and made us. They had the same thoughts you and I have, more or less, but they had them for the first time, at least the first time history records. Do you want a thoroughly modern send-up of Feminism in all its silliness? Then read Aristophanes‘ Lysistratait’s only 2500 years old. For a chaser, recall the line of 17th century English poet and priest John Donne: “Hope not for mind in woman; at their best, they are but mummy possessed.” Pick any subject you want, except science, and these folks were there before us, thousands of years before us in some cases, with the same observations, thoughts and comments we offer today. We are their children.
That led to my second lesson: nothing is new. The only person since the 18th century to have a new idea was Nietzsche, and he was mad. Even science was well along the road we still follow by the time Napoleon was trying to conquer Europe.

Back in the old USA, newness—novelty—was what everyone wanted. Ironically, that too was old, but early 21st century Americans were so cut off from their past they didn’t know it (or much else, beyond how to operate the TV remote and their cell phone).

You see, sometime around the middle of the 18th century, we men of the West struck Faust’s bargain with the Devil. We could do anything, have anything, say anything, with one exception: verweile doch, du bist so schön. We could not tarry, we could not rest, we could not get it right and then keep it that way. Always we must have something new: that was the bargain, and ultimately the reason we pulled our house down around us.

Satan, like God, has a sense of humor. His joke on us was that most of the stuff we thought was new, wasn’t. Especially the errors, blunders, and heresies; they had all been tried, and failed, and understood as mistakes long, long before. But we had lost our past, so we didn’t know. We were too busy passing around “information” with our computers to study any history. So it was all new to us, and we had to make the same mistakes over again. The price was high.

The third lesson, and the one that shaped the rest of my life, was that these thoughts and lessons and concepts and morals that make up our Western culture—for that is what these books contain—were worth fighting for. As Pat Buchanan said, they were true, they were ours, and they were good. They had given us, when we still paid attention to them, the freest and most prosperous societies man has ever known.

They were all bought at a price. Christ died on a cross. The Spartans still lie at Thermopylae. Socrates served Athens as a soldier before he drank its hemlock, also obedient to its laws. Cicero spoke on duty and died at the hands of the Roman government. Saints’dies natales, their birthdays, were the days they died to this world. Every truth we hold and are held by is written in blood, and sweat and tears and cold hours scribbling in lonely garrets with not enough to eat. None of it came cheap – none of it.

We Victorians, those of my generation anyway, know that fighting for the truth is not a metaphor. We killed for it and we died for it. By the 21st century, that was the only way to save it, weapon in hand. That, too, is nothing new, just another lesson we had forgotten and had to learn all over again.

Victoria: Chapter 2

When President Eisenhower of the old USA visited Dartmouth in the 1950s, he said it looked exactly the way a college ought to. By the late ’90s it still did, despite the fact that they’d built an ultra-modern student center on the traditional green —part of the “foul your own nest” maxim that ruled most campuses from the 1960s on. Those were the days when “art” was defined as whatever was ugly or shocking or out of place, not what was beautiful.

Professor Sanft had retired from the German department in 2012. Actually, he was driven out by the weirdos who then populated college faculties —the feminists, freaks, and phonies who had replaced learning with politics. I found him at a house in Hanover, which turned out to be not his residence but the college-in-hiding, otherwise known as the Martin Institute. It seemed some conservative alumni, recognizing that the barbarians were within the gates of their alma mater, had bought a house in town, brought in Professor Sanft and a few other genuine scholars, and were offering Dartmouth students the courses the college would no longer teach, like the great books of Western civilization.

I knew the prof and I would get along when I saw the Zeppelin poster on his office door and smelled the pipe smoke curling out the same. The office was a vast clutter of books and papers, pipes and walking sticks, straw hats and the occasional bottle of something refreshing; no old Sandinista posters on the walls here. Professor Sanft, dressed in a white linen suit for summer and the Raj, with a pink shirt and polka-dot bow-tie, bid me welcome. Jim Sampsonoff had written, saying I’d be by. I wasn’t quite sure why I was there, but the professor seemed to know.

“Jim says you’re interested in getting an education,” he opened.

“Well, I thought I already had one,” I replied. “I graduated from Bowdoin with a pre-med major, before I decided I’d rather make holes in people with a bullet than a scalpel. It’s quicker and more fun, though the pay is less.”

“What do you think an education is?” he continued.

“Going to college, taking some courses and getting a degree, I guess,” I responded, suspecting this was not the right answer.

“No, that’s just credentialing. It may help you get a job, but it won’t help you, yourself, much beyond that. Do you know what the word ‘education’ means?”

I allowed as I hadn’t thought about that much.

“It’s from the Latin ex, for ‘out’ or ‘beyond,’ plus ducare, to lead. An education leads you out beyond where you were, in terms of your understanding of life, the universe, and everything. Did Bowdoin do that for you?”

“Well, not really,” I guessed. But I wasn’t sure this was leading me where I wanted to go, either. “Jim said I should see you because you would help me understand why I got fired for doing what I thought was right. Would a real education help me understand that?” I asked.

“Yes, and perhaps a few more things besides,” answered Professor Sanft. “There was a fellow named Socrates, some years back, who had a similar experience. Ever hear of him?”

I had, and I remembered something about drinking some bad hemlock wine or some such, but beyond that it was hazy.

“You’re in the same situation as most of the students who come to me here,” he said. “You know where you are in space but not in time. You don’t know where you came from. You live in Western civilization, but you don’t know what it is. You don’t know that this civilization had a beginning and went through some rather remarkable times before getting to where we are today.”

“Without the songs and stories of the West, our West , we are impoverished,” he continued. “Weightless and drifting, we do not know where we are in history. We are what the Germans call mere Luftmenschen – in a free translation, airheads.”

The mention of history perked me up. Ever since I was about eight years old, I’d read a lot of military history. I learned to read not so much in school as by falling in love with C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower novels, which followed a British naval officer in his career from midshipman through admiral, in the wars of the French Revolution and Napoleon. They were fiction, but rooted in fact. I didn’t realize it until much later, but they were also a great introduction to military decision-making.

“In the Marine Corps,” I said, “I saw that people who hadn’t read much military history could only follow processes, which they learned by rote. They could not understand the situation they were in. They had no context.”

“That’s an insight most Dartmouth students don’t have,” said the professor. “And it is what I’m talking about, on a larger scale. Just as your fellow Marines could not understand a military situation, so you can’t understand your situation in the war for our culture. Literally, you can’t see your place—situin it.”

“Jim said I was a casualty in the culture war. I always thought wars were fought by guys with uniforms and guns. I’m not quite sure what this ‘culture war’ is all about,” I said.

“Sadly, this great culture of ours, Western culture, is under attack,” the professor replied. “The universities today are active and conscious agents in its destruction. Indeed, they have generated theories as to why Western culture should be destroyed. Of course, they aren’t alone. The most powerful single force in America now is the entertainment industry, and it is also an agent of cultural destruction. Many of the politicians play the game too. The usual code-words are ‘racism, sexism, and homophobia.’ When you hear them, you’re hearing the worms gnawing at the foundation.”

I’d been told my high crime was “sexism,” so that clicked, and Col. Ryan was certainly a politician. It sounded as if there were a new battlefield I needed to understand.

“So where do I start?” I asked.

“By studying our culture – what it is, where it came from, what its great ideas and values are and why we hold them to be great,” Professor Sanft answered. “In other words, with an education.”

He’d brought me back to where we’d started, though now I grasped what he meant.

“That doesn’t mean going back to college,” he continued. “You can do it on your own. In fact, to a large degree, you have to do it on your own now, even if you are a college student. That’s why we have this institute, and why I’m here. And I can give you a small present that will get you started.” He handed me a copy of a book: Smiling Through the Cultural Catastrophe. “Another Darmouth professor, Jeffery Hart, wrote this a few years ago. Think of it as a road map, though I’ve heard it’s dangerous to give those to infantry officers,” Professor Sanft said.

“Thanks, I think,” I replied. Actually, we grunts did get lost a lot, we just tried to keep it a trade secret.

“It tells you what to read, what commentaries are best, and offers a few comments of its own,” Professor Sanft said. “The books don’t cost much, a tiny fraction of a year’s tuition at Dartmouth, but they’ll do for you what Dartmouth no longer does. They will make you an educated man of the West.”

I thanked Professor Sanft that day, though not nearly as much as I’ve thanked him since. I went to the Dartmouth Bookstore and stocked up. Maine would give me time for reading.

When we look back on our lives, incidents that seemed small at the time may take on great importance. That half-hour with Professor Gottfried Sanft changed my life. Most of my years since that day in Hanover have been spent fighting for Western culture, then rebuilding it, piece by piece, once the fighting part was done.

Thanks to Professor Sanft, this was one infantryman who wasn’t lost.

VICTORIA: Chapter 1

Book I: Dissolution

Chapter One

My war started May 7, 2016, at the mess night put on by my class at the Marine Corps’ Amphibious Warfare School in Quantico, Virginia.

I got killed.

A mess night, when it’s done right, is a black tie brawl. It’s a Brit thing, very formal-like and proper when it starts, with a table full of wine glasses and funny forks and Mr. Vice proposing toasts and rules like you’ve got to stand up and ask permission to go pee (usually denied). After enough toasts things loosen up a bit, with the aviators doing “carrier landings” by belly flopping on the tables and sliding through the crystal and the infantry getting into fights. At least, that’s how the good ones go.

One of the Corps’ better traditions was that we remembered our dead. The mess set a table apart, with the glasses and silver inverted, for those who had gone before us and never come back. And before the fun began we remembered the battles where they had fought and fallen; Tripoli to Chapultepec to Helmand. A bell rang for each, a Marine officer stood up and called that battle’s name, and we became pretty thoughtful. Another Marine Corps tradition, not one of its better ones in terms of what happens in battles, was to try to pre-plan and rehearse and control everything so there couldn’t be any surprises or mistakes. “Control Freaks R Us” sometimes seemed to be the motto of the officer corps, at least above the company grades. So a couple days before the mess night, the battles to be remembered were each assigned to a captain.

Iwo Jima went to a woman.

We were really steamed. We lost a lot of guys on Iwo, and they were men, not women. Of course, these were the years of “political correctness.” Our colonel was running for general, and he figured he could kiss ass by being “sensitive to issues of race, gender, and class.”
It’s hard to remember that we even had women in a military, it seems so strange now. How could we have been so contemptuous of human experience? Did we think it merely a coincidence that all armies, everywhere, that had actually fought anyone had been made up solely of men? But these were the last days of the U.S.A., and the absurd, the silly, the impossible were in charge and normal people were expected to keep their mouths shut. It was a time, as Roger Kimball said, of “experiments against reality.”

Like a lot of young Marine officers at AWS, I was a reader, especially of what the Germans had written about war. They were the masters, for a century and a half, and we were their willing pupils. I remembered, then and always, an essay written by a German general, Hans von Seekt, the man who rebuilt the German Army after World War I. The title, and the message was Das Wesentliche ist die TatThe Essential Thing is the Deed. Not the idea, not the desire, not the intention — the deed.

So I did it. The moment came on May 7, during the mess night. The bell tolled our battles: Belleau Wood, Nicaragua, Guadalcanal, Tarawa. Iwo was next. The bell. I was on my feet before she started to move. “Iwo Jima,” I cried in my best parade-ground voice.

Our honor was safe that night.

The next morning, I was toast. The colonel’s clerk was waiting for me when I walked into the building. “The CO wants to see you at once,” he said. I wasn’t surprised. I knew what was coming and I was willing to take it. That’s something else the Germans taught me: Verantwortungsfreudigkeit, the “joy in taking responsibility” that is central to what character means in an officer.

The colonel generally specialized in being nice. But I’d endangered his sacred quest for a promotion, and in the old American military that was the greatest sin a subordinate could commit.

“You have a choice,” he said as I stood at attention in front of his desk. “You can get up in front of the class and apologize to me, to the female captain you insulted last night, to all the women in the corps, and to the class, or you can have your written resignation from the Marine Corps on my desk before the morning is over.”

“No, sir,” I replied.

“What do you mean, ‘No, sir?’ I gave you a choice. Which one will it be?”

“Neither one, sir.” An early lesson I’d learned about war was that if the enemy gave you two options, refuse them both and do something else. “I have nothing to apologize for,” I continued. “No woman has the right to represent any of the Corps’ battles, because those battles were fought and won by men. And people resign when they’ve done something wrong. I haven’t.”

“I’ve already spoken to the Commanding General,” the colonel replied. “He understands, and you’d better understand, what happens if word of what you did gets to Congresswoman Sally Bluhose, Chairperson of the House Armed Services Committee. I’ve been informed several of the female officers here are planning a joint letter to her. If you don’t help us head this off, she’ll have the Commandant up before the whole committee on this with the television cameras rolling.”

“Sir,” I said, “I thought when people became colonels and generals and Commandants, that meant they took on the burden of moral responsibility that comes with the privileges of rank and position. That’s what I’ve always told my sergeants and lieutenants, and when they did what they thought was right I backed them up, even when it caused me some problems with my chain of command. Is what I’ve been telling them true or not?”

“This has nothing to do with truth,” yelled Col. Ryan, who was starting to lose it. “What the hell is truth, anyway? This is about politics and our image and our budget. Congresswoman Bluhose is a leading advocate for women’s rights. She’ll be enraged, and I’ll take it in the shorts from Headquarters, Marine Corps. Don’t you get it?”

“Yes, sir, I think I do get it,” I said. “You, and I guess the CG here at Quantico and the Commandant, want to surrender to Congresswoman Bluhose and what she represents, a Corps and a country that have been emasculated. But the way I see it, and maybe this is Maine talking, if we’re supposed to fight, that means we have to fight for something. What’s the point in fighting for a country like that? Whatever defeats and replaces it could only be an improvement.”

“I don’t give a damn how you see it, captain,” said the colonel, now icy calm again. “You are going to see it the way I see it. Do I get the apology or the resignation?”

“Neither one, sir,” I said again.

“OK, then this is how it will be,” Colonel Ryan declared. “You are no longer a student at this school. As of this minute. Clear out your locker and get out, now. That’s a direct order, and I’ve already cleared it all the way up the chain.” (As if this guy would have farted without clearing it first.) “You’re going to get a fitness report so bad Christ himself would puke on you if he read it. You’re finished. You won’t even come up for major, and you’ll clean heads for the rest of your sorry days in this Corps. Dismissed.”

So that was that. The word spread fast around the school, as it always did. That was a good gut-check for the rest of the class. Most flunked. They parted for me like the sea did for Moses as I wandered around collecting my books and few other belongings. The handful with moral courage shook my hand and wished me well.

One, my friend Jim Sampsonoff, an aviator, said something important. “You’re a casualty in the culture war,” were his words.

“The what?” I replied.

“The culture war,” he said again. “The next real war is going to be here, on our own soil. It’s already begun, though not the shooting part, yet. It’s a war between those of us who still believe in our old Western culture, the culture that grew up over the last 3000 or so years from Jerusalem and Athens, Rome and Constantinople, and the people who are trying to destroy it. It’s the most important war we’ll ever fight, because if we lose our culture, we’ll lose everything else, too.”

“You mean there’s more to it than whether we’re going to have women in the infantry and gays in the barracks?” I asked.

“You bet,” he said. “Look, you’ll be heading back up to Maine sooner or later. Take a detour through Hanover, New Hampshire. That’s where my college is, Dartmouth. Go see my old German professor, now retired, Gottfried Sanft. He’s the greatest of rarities on an Ivy League campus, an educated man. You need to read some books. He’ll tell you which ones.”

I knew my Marine Corps career was over, but I hung on at Quantico until my AWS class graduated, to make my point about not resigning to apologize for my action. They assigned me to supervise cutting brush around the base, a point the brass carefully made to the mighty “Ms.” Bluhose as they ate toads for her. Come summer, I sent in my letter and headed back to Maine.

Was it worth it? Yes. I made early the choice everyone had to make sooner or later, whether to fight for our culture or turn from it and die. As is so often the case in life, what seemed like an ending was really a beginning.

On the way home, I took Jim Sampsonoff’s advice and paid a visit to Professor Sanft.

Victoria: Preface

The triumph of the Recovery was marked most clearly by the burning of the Episcopal bishop of Maine.

She was not a particularly bad bishop. She was in fact typical of Episcopal bishops of the first quarter of the 21st century: agnostic, compulsively political and radical, and given to placing a small idol of Isis on the altar when she said the Communion service. By 2055, when she was tried for heresy, convicted, and burned, she had outlived her era. By that time only a handful of Episcopalians still recognized female clergy, it would have been easy enough to let the old fool rant out her final years in obscurity.

The fact that the easy road was not taken, that Episcopalians turned to their difficult duty of trying and convicting, and the state upheld its unpleasant responsibility of setting torch to faggots, was what marked this as an act of Recovery. I well remember the crowd that gathered for the execution, solemn but not sad, relieved rather that at last, after so many years of humiliation, of having to swallow every absurdity and pretend we liked it, the majority had taken back the culture. No more apologies for the truth. No more “Yes, buts” on upholding standards. Civilization had recovered its nerve. The flames that soared above the lawn before the Maine State House were, as the bishopess herself might have said, liberating.

She could have saved herself, of course, right up until the torch was applied. All she had to do was announce she wasn’t a bishop, or a priest, since Christian tradition forbids a woman to be either. Or she could have confessed she wasn’t a Christian, in which case she could be bishopess, priestess, popess, whatever, in the service of her chosen demons. That would have just gotten her tossed over the border.

But the Prince of This World whom she served gives his devotees neither an easy nor a dignified exit. She bawled, she babbled, she shrieked in Hellish tongues, she pissed and pooped herself. The pyre was lit at 12:01 PM on a cool, cloudless August 18th, St. Helen’s day. The flames climbed fast; after all, they’d been waiting for her for a long time.

When it was over, none of us felt good about it. But we’d long since learned feelings were a poor guide. We’d done the right thing.

***

Was the dissolution of the United States inevitable?

Probably, once all the “diversity” and “multiculturalism” crap got started. Right up to the end the coins carried the motto, E Pluribus Unum, just as the last dreadnought of the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Navy was the Viribus Unitis. But the reality for both was Ex Uno, Plura.

It’s odd how clearly the American century is marked: 1865 to 1965. As the 20th century historian Shelby Foote noted, the first Civil War made us one nation. In 1860, we wrote, “the United States are.” By the end of the war, the verb was singular: “the United States is.” After 1965 and another war we disunited—deconstructed—with equal speed into blacks, whites, Hispanics, womyn, gays, victims, oppressors, left-handed albinos with congenital halitosis, you name it. The homosexuals said silence = death. Nature replied diversity = war.

In four decades we covered the distance that had taken Rome three centuries. As late as the mid-1960s—God, it’s hard to believe—America was still the greatest nation on earth, the most productive, the freest, the top superpower, a place of safe homes, dutiful children in good schools, strong families, a hot lunch for orphans. By the 1990s the place had the stench of a third-world country. The cities were ravaged by punks, beggars, and bums; as in third century Rome, law applied only to the law-abiding. Schools had become daytime holding pens for illiterate young savages. First television, then the Internet brought the decadence of Weimar Berlin into every home.

***

In this Year of Our Lord 2068—and my 80th year on this planet—we citizens of Victoria have the blessed good fortune to live once again in an age of accomplishment and decency. With the exception of New Spain, most of the nations that cover the territory of the former United States are starting to get things working again. The revival of traditional, Western, Christian culture we began is spreading outward from our rocky New England soil, displacing savagery with civilization for a second time.

I am writing this down so you never forget, not you, nor your children, nor their children. You did not go through the wars, though you have lived with their consequences. Your children will have grown up in a well-ordered, prosperous country, and that can be dangerously comforting. Here, they will read what happens when a people forgets who they are.

This is my story, the story of the life of one man, John Ira Rumford of Hartland, Maine, soldier and farmer. I came into this world near enough the beginning of the end for the old U.S. of A., on June 28, 1988. I expect to leave it shortly, without regrets.

It’s also the story of the end of a once-great nation, by someone who saw most of what happened, and why.

Read it and weep.