The Paleo Diet as a Revolt Against the Modern World

What makes the Paleo diet different is that it isn’t just a diet — it’s part of a lifestyle, and a revolutionary one at that. The Paleo rallying cry is that the artificial, top-down, and shrink-wrapped environment we’ve been conned into accepting is killing us. The good news is that we can free ourselves and live healthier, longer lives by taking responsibility for our health and survival.

However, judging from discussions and articles I’ve seen on pro-Paleo sites, many who think they’re living the Paleo life don’t understand the vital importance of physical fitness. And many more still depend exclusively on technology — firearms — for self-defense. I’d like to propose a pro-Paleo regimen that fills in these gaps.

When I first read about the Paleo lifestyle, I was already exercising, and thought I was eating properly. However, what I learned about Paleo turned my world upside down. I’d been starving myself trying to lose stubborn inches around my belly, and was failing miserably. But only six months after I started the Paleo diet, I dropped from 195 to 165 pounds, and shrank my waistline from 40 to 34 inches. And I’ve kept it off.

What really struck me about the Paleo revolution was how it dovetailed into a way of living that promoted personal liberty. Paleo’s basic message is that we have adapted a lifestyle that’s counter to our hunter-gatherer nature. A sedentary lifestyle plus a diet of over-processed, high-carb, sugary food has all but crippled us, as the increase of obesity, heart disease, various cancers, gluten intolerance, and depression indicates.

Worse, this counter-productive lifestyle has the blessing and backing of both the FDA and the Department of Agriculture, as well as their corporate kin Big Pharma and Big Agra. Meanwhile, Madison Avenue portrays this toxic way of life as not only fun, but glamorous. “Consume mass quantities” of the stuff touted in ads and in TV sit-coms, and you, too, can be cool and popular.

The Paleo diet is a revolt from the fare prescribed for us by government nutritionists. In fact, the Paleo diet recommends the very foods our dietary overseers condemn, such as meats and eggs. Add tree-borne nuts, fruits, fish, and poultry, and you’re approximating what our Paleolithic ancestors ate.

But the diet is just part of the Paleo lifestyle, which stresses giving the body everything it needs, including the activities it was designed for, such as lifting, running, and throwing. It also makes us confront the forces that have herded us into our modern, unhealthy lifestyles. Those forces are aligned with Big Government and Big Business, which want you to be dependent on them for everything, including your diet and personal safety. The Paleo lifestyle encourages breaking away and relying on your own resources.

Keeping in shape is a vital part of living Paleo, and fitness is vital to self-defense. There are a number of reasons we shouldn’t rely exclusively on firearms for defending ourselves and loved ones. Guns may not be readily available when you need them. Guns may be more than what you need in a given situation. And guns, even when properly maintained, can fail. So it’s nice to have other options.

Strength training is the most effective means of boosting your self-defense capabilities. Not only have weight lifting programs been proven to increase testosterone levels, which are very handy in a fight, they also improve cognitive abilities, including selective attention and conflict resolution skills. (I fully subscribe to the philosophy that avoiding a fight is the best way to win one.)

While we’re talking about basics, there’s nothing more basic to self-defense than the art of knowing how to make and use your fists. A recent article in the Journal of Experimental Biology argues that human fists evolved for punching. A daily workout with a punching bag will teach you a great deal about how to throw a hard, fast punch. If you’re unsure about your form, take a quick course in boxing and basic self-defense. Should you be even more ambitious, learn martial arts. For the older set, I suggest those forms that emphasize low kicks, such as Ishin-ryu, rather than Muay Tai and Taekwondo.

If you want to really go Paleo in your fitness and self-defense training, learn how to use primitive weapons. If you take oriental martial arts, you’ll be introduced to the bo (fighting staff), the nunchaku, and the tonfa (T-baton). These are very practical weapons, and learning how to use them will teach you how to improvise weapons from available resources.

And there’s nothing more Paleo than such primitive weapons as the sling or atl-atl (dart-thrower). They’re easy to make, and are deadly long-distance weapons. There are a number of online resources that will show you how to make and use them. I thoroughly enjoy target practice with the sling. It’s something you can do in a municipal park — just find a deserted soccer of baseball field. Tennis and golf balls make effective substitutes for stone and lead projectiles.

To paraphrase Paleo guru Mark Sisson, if you really want to challenge the status quo and try something old, work out and learn the ancient arts of self-defense. Even if you never have to use these skills, the confidence you’ll build and the sense of accomplishment you’ll gain will make the effort well worth the investment. favicon

M. C. Tuggle is a writer in Charlotte, North Carolina. An avid weightlifter, outdoorsman, collector of American Indian relics, and student of martial arts, he is also a student of military history, and has given presentations on Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Campaign to several historical societies. His novella Aztec Midnight has just been published by The Novel Fox.

The Conservative vs. The Universe

As a counterpunch to left-wing science fiction writer China Miéville’s list of Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels for socialists, Samuel Goldman of the American Conservative penned “10 Sci Fi and Fantasy Works Every Conservative Should Read.” As Goldman explained, “I’m not suggesting that these books express conservative views as such. But they do raise questions for conservatives or develop ideas from which conservatives can learn.”

Goldman listed Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories as number seven. Following close behind was H.P. Lovecraft, particularly the “Cthulhu cycle” of stories. Lovecraft, as Goldman reminded us in his article, was Howard’s friend and mentor “who believed society had to be defended from the eternal danger of barbarism.”

The questions these writers raised have never been more urgent for conservatives. Both Howard and Lovecraft saw civilization and order as not only fragile but necessarily short-lived. In the fictional worlds these imaginative writers created, the values and beliefs that made life possible had to be defended against forces of chaos that inevitably had the upper hand. What counted was the protagonist’s resolve and dedication.

Lovecraft was a literary and financial failure in life, though in the 1960s and 70s, both conservative and counter-culture fans rediscovered him. Jorge Luis Borges, Umberto Eco, Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, and French novelist Michel Houellebecq have all credited Lovecraft as a decisive thematic and stylistic (if not philosophical) influence.

A bright and sensitive child whose parents died in the same insane asylum, Howard Lovecraft early on came to see the civilization around him as decadent and fated to give way to the forces of chaos. He agreed with Oswald Spengler that Western civilization was declining. On page 228 of Lovecraft’s Selected Letters he admitted:

It would be better if we could still be naive, beauty-loving, and ignorant — yet we cannot turn the clock back. Memphis and Nineveh, Babylon and Persepolis, Carthage and Ctesiphon, Athens and Lacedaemon, Rome and Alexandria, Antioch and Tyre — all these have had their day and their sunset; their grandeur and their fall. In the face of such a pageant of history it would be folly to expect anything else of the existing civilisation. This age in America corresponds quite startlingly to the luxurious and disillusioned age of Antonines in the Roman Empire — when Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Athens and New Carthage blazed in the sunset that was to mark the death of the ancient world.

Like Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard acquired his fatalistic view of the universe and civilization as a youngster. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian was a fierce but somewhat naive, and stubbornly principled outsider who had little patience with the soft and decadent city dwellers he often had to rescue. Conan’s attitude toward “civilization” and “progress” reflected Howard’s own views, formed by Howard’s childhood travels in the oil boomtowns his father served as a doctor in the half-wild Texas backcountry of the early 1900s. The saloons, oil wildcatters, and unscrupulous businessmen the young Howard encountered instilled in him the image of the city as a breeding ground of enervating luxury, corruption, and degeneracy.

Despite Lovecraft’s and Howard’s pessimism, both upheld personal codes of conduct they clearly believed as essential for their personal honor and sanity, as well as for the good of those they cared about. Conan was always quick to take up the cause of the weak and the unfortunate. A lady in distress would find not just a champion in the rough barbarian, but a hot-headed and passionate lover as well. To his comrades, Conan would remain fiercely loyal despite the perils. In Queen of the Black Coast, Conan lost his patience with a judge who demanded Conan testify against a comrade in arms:

Well, last night in a tavern, a captain in the king’s guard offered violence to the sweetheart of a young soldier, who naturally ran him through. But it seems there is some cursed law against killing guardsmen, and the boy and his girl fled away. It was bruited about that I was seen with them, and so today I was haled into court, and a judge asked me where the lad had gone. I replied that since he was a friend of mine, I could not betray him. Then the court waxed wrath, and the judge talked a great deal about my duty to the state, and society, and other things I did not understand, and bade me tell where my friend had flown. By this time I was becoming wrathful myself, for I had explained my position.

But I choked my ire and held my peace, and the judge squalled that I had shown contempt for the court, and that I should be hurled into a dungeon to rot until I betrayed my friend. So then, seeing they were all mad, I drew my sword and cleft the judge’s skull; then I cut my way out of the court, and seeing the high constable’s stallion tied near by, I rode for the wharfs, where I thought to find a ship bound for foreign parts.

And thus began yet another adventure.

Similarly, Lovecraft’s protagonists confronted madness and evil as a result of what often began as misguided friendship, idle curiosity, or even scholarly pursuit. Their struggles, however, were always doomed from the start. In one of Lovecraft’s best tales, The Shadow over Innsmouth, the intrepid and resourceful protagonist managed to evade an entire town of half-amphibian, half-human monsters, only to discover at the end of the tale that he was one of them. Again, the forces of darkness and chaos proved inescapable.

Despite his fatalistic view of life, Lovecraft, like Howard, believed that a man must uphold certain standards, for his own sake and for others. On page 111 of his Letters, Howard made this explicit:

Surely it is well that the happiness of the unfortunate be made as great as possible; and he who is kind, helpful, and patient, with his fellow-sufferers, adds as truly to the world’s combined fund of tranquillity as he who, with greater endowments, promotes the birth of empires, or advances the knowledge and civilisation of mankind. Thus no man of philosophical cast, however circumscribed by poverty or retarded by ailment, need feel himself superfluous so long as he holds the power to improve the spirits of others.

As Samuel Goldman cautioned in his list for conservatives, Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft may not have imparted conservative views in their highly readable and often disturbing fiction, but certainly raised issues every modern-day conservative must confront. favicon

M. C. Tuggle is a writer in Charlotte, North Carolina. His fantasy, sci-fi, and literary stories have been featured in Kzine, Bewildering Stories, Mystic Signals, Fabula Argentea, and Fiction 365. He has also published articles and opinion pieces in American Spectator, Taki’s Magazine, and Lew Rockwell. His latest novella, Aztec Midnight, has just been published by The Novel Fox.