The State’s Crisis of Legitimacy Intensifies

As of this writing, the outcome of the Presidential election is uncertain although it appears Biden will “win”, thanks to questionable vote totals from urban areas.  The Senate looks as if it will remain Republican, and the Democrats have held onto the House although with a reduced majority.  The most important result of the election is, however, clear: the legitimacy of the state has taken another hit.

Regardless of who wins the Presidency, the opposing Party will not see the victor’s triumph as legitimate.  If Trump wins, it will probably be via the courts, and the Left will regard that as undemocratic and thus illegitimate.  If Biden wins after boatloads of votes from urban areas pour in, many after election day, the Right will view the election as stolen.  I have no knowledge of what is going on in places where those votes are being counted (or added).  But urban political machines, almost all Democrat, have a long history of stuffing the ballot box and intentionally miscounting votes.  The Right has every reason to be suspicious that it is happening again.

If in the end we have Biden as President with a Republican Senate and a Democratic House, the situation may stabilize for a time.  Biden’s personal inclination will be to govern from the center, and a Republican Senate will give him the excuse to do so.  He can tell the hard Left that he would like to do as they want, but cannot get it through the Senate.

However, control of the Senate may hinge on one or two Senate seat run-offs on January 5 in Georgia.  Nowhere has the vote count in the Presidential contest been more suspicious, because the Democratic machine that runs Atlanta is both corrupt and clever.  Late votes from Atlanta could give one or two more Senate seats to the Democrats, yielding them control of the Senate.  If that happens, it will be much harder for Biden to turn the crazies down.

That, in turn, would open the door to what could well be the American state’s final intensification of its crisis of legitimacy before its collapse.  Of the three branches of government, the only one that still has broad legitimacy is the Supreme Court.  If Biden proposes packing that court and gets his proposal through two Democratic Houses of Congress–no sure thing, as some Democrats will be wary–then that branch too will lose its legitimacy.  The Right will not accept judgements from a court that has been turned into an unelected legislature whose members have lifetime seats and whose decisions are unappealable.

There are other actions a President Biden (or Harris) could take that might bring about the dissolution of the republic.  One would be opening the southern border and admitting millions of “refugees”.  Another, seemingly unlikely but not so, would be a complete shutdown of American life to control COVID-19.  That would enrage millions of Americans while all but guaranteeing a second Great Depression, this time with mounting inflation instead of deflation (economists will tell you that is impossible but a quick look at Venezuela will show you it’s not).

The core problem is that no one in Washington realizes the state is already in a legitimacy crisis.  They thus make no effort to preserve the state’s legitimacy, such as it still is.  The Democrats think, well, if we win politically we will just use the normal instruments of state coercion, the police and the military, to force what we decide on the rest of the nation.  They cannot imagine that the police and the military, most of whose personnel voted for President Trump, might refuse to obey their orders.  Yet history is full of cases where it happened.

That, in the end, is what a crisis of legitimacy is all about: will anyone do what the state orders them to do?  In a legitimate state, people obey without being coerced because they accept the state’s decision even when they may disagree with them.  An illegitimate state can survive for a while through coercion if the police and the military will obey orders.  But even if that works for a time, that time runs out, as we have seen in recent decades in many Communist countries.

There, the result was a new government in some places, state disintegration elsewhere (including Russia).  Whichever awaits us (my bet is the latter), the election of 2020 has already moved us leagues towards our fate.

Equality, the *Original* Original Sin

If it seems that demands for “equality” lie at the heart of most of the troubles now facing our country, well, they do.  Equality is the ideal demand from those whose goal is our destruction because it cannot be met, no matter how hard we may try.  If there is one thing people are not it is equal.  We differ in so many ways that only iron tyranny, like that of Stalin, can create even an appearance of equality.  And in Stalin’s Soviet Union, some comrades were still more equal than others.  Stalin did not go hungry because millions of Ukrainians were starving.

It should not surprise Christians that those who make war on us often do so in the name of “equality”, because a demand for equality was the original original sin.  Revelation 12, verses 7-9, outline that sin:

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels.

And prevailed not; neither was their place found more in heaven.

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Church tradition says the reason for war in heaven was Satan’s demand for equality with God.  That tradition is supported by one of Satan’s temptations of Christ, where he offers Christ all the kingdoms of the world if he will bow down and worship him.  Like today’s cultural Marxists, Satan demands equality but really seeks to be top dog (or, since we are speaking of the Devil, top cat).

The traditional Christian view rejects equality, defined now as interchangeability.  C.S. Lewis describes and defends that older view in his last book, The Discarded Image.  It is a defense of the pre-Copernican understanding of the Cosmos, where the earth was at the center and all else revolved around it.  Lewis knew that was not physically true, but he was talking about more than science.  The Middle Ages believed not only that the sun revolved around the earth, but that every person and every thing had an assigned place and function, unique to itself.  It or he had within a gentle force, which Lewis called “kindly inclining”, that would, if allowed by their will, lead them to that place and purpose.  For the spheres to be in harmony, everyone and everything had to be in his or its intended place, doing what God wanted them to do.

Nothing could be further from equality.  We are equal recipients of God’s love and of His hope for our salvation, but in no other ways.  No one else will have, in time or place, our role and purpose in the universe.

Since Lewis wrote, our understanding of the Cosmos has grown and changed.  We now have reason to think there are many earth-like planets, billions possibly.  We do not yet know, but at least some of those worlds probably have intelligent life, life modeled as we are on God, our and their Creator (the old name for the “Big Bang” is “the Creation”).

The relationship between science and Christian theology is also changing.  Mathematics and science have, in recent years, identified multiple dimensions we do not perceive and suggested there may be many parallel universes, which may not have the same laws of physics as our universe.  Astrophysicists have discovered that most of the matter in the universe cannot be detected through the five senses; now called “dark matter”, earlier centuries knew it as phlogiston.  Together, these findings may (I stress may) give us some insight into the world we enter through death.  As the late Jeffery Hart wrote, when the scientists finally reach the pinnacle of their Mount Parnassus, they may find the theologians already there.

Lewis gives us more to think about in this regard in his three science/theology novels, Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength.  Set within our solar system, the three books have other planets inhabited by intelligent life but earth the only place where that creature, man, fell.  That fall, the second original sin, occurred because Satan was cast into earth after his rebellion.  Had earth held no Satan, no one would have tempted Eve.

If we expand Lewis’s thesis to our entire universe, there is still only one God and one Satan, therefore only one planet into which Satan was cast, one planet where the creation modeled on God fell and one planet where the Second Person of the Trinity became incarnate and died to redeem His fallen creatures.  In that sense, the pre-Copernican model of the universe may still be valid; because of those events, earth may be the spiritual center of the universe even though it is not so physically.  Lewis’s defense of the Medieval world view is thus justified and the discarded image born anew.

And evil and sin came into the world because of a demand for equality.  Should it surprise us that Satan is demanding it still?

Will There Be Blood?

The last time America faced an election where two incompatible cultures contended was 1860.  Then, the face-off was between the industrial culture of the North and the agri-culture of the South (as Wendell Berry reminds us, agriculture is culture).  The result was the bloodiest war in American history.  Now, the fight is between cultural Marxism, represented by Democrats, and traditional, Western, Judeo-Christian culture, defended (imperfectly) by the Republicans.  Will there be blood this time as there was last?

If President Trump is re-elected, as I expect, we will probably see a few riots conjured up by antifa/BLM.  They will largely be confined to cities whose governments tolerate them, places such as Seattle, Portland, and Oakland, California.  Elsewhere, the cops will be on full alert and any violence will be put down quickly.  The Left will realize that the antics of antifa, BLM, and the anarchists cost them the election, so even the Leftist mayors and governors will be looking to maintain order.  In all, violence should not amount to much.

If Biden wins but Republicans keep the Senate, I would again anticipate little or no violence.  Biden will have to govern from the center (his probable preference) because extreme measures won’t make it through the Senate.  Such a Democratic Presidency would largely be a repeat of the Obama years, which will do major damage to the economy.  In 2022, the economic downturn should give the Republicans the House and a larger Senate majority, rendering Biden largely a figurehead.  In other words, politics will be carried on within the political system, not in the streets.

If Biden wins and the Democrats take the Senate, the picture grows darker.  Everything will depend on whether Biden can say no to the crazies.  If he can’t, some actions would rip the country apart.  One would be abolishing ICE, opening the southern border and saying, “Welcome to the country where everything is free!”  As vast caravans of peasants begin to move north, Texas and Arizona, possibly also New Mexico, would mobilize their National Guards and send them to keep the border closed.  President Biden would respond by federalizing those Guard units and ordering them home.  If, at that point, the Governors and Adjutant Generals of those states refused the order, Biden would either have to back down or send active duty forces to fight the Guard.  I think the active-duty units would either refuse the orders or fragment along racial lines.  Secession would be a real possibility, and the country would be in free-fall toward widespread Fourth Generation war.

Similarly, if Democrats pack the Supreme Court, subsequent actions by that Court could dissolve the Union.  One would be ruling the Second Amendment does not protect private gun ownership.  Another would be finding that “hate speech”, which is any defiance of cultural Marxism, is not protected by the First Amendment.  Both of these measures would widely and rightly be seen as attempts to create a totalitarian, ideological state, a new Soviet America based not on Marxism-Leninism, but cultural Marxism.  Armed resistance would be general.

The last scenario is an election where the result is in dispute.  Let’s say that in Pennsylvania, whose Democrat-dominated Supreme Court just ruled mis-matched signatures do not invalidate a ballot, the Democrats “win” because such ballots are counted, but would otherwise lose.  President Trump and his supporters would (rightly) not accept that outcome because many of those ballots would be fraudulent.  If Pennsylvania made the difference in the Electoral College, either outcome, a win for Biden or President Trump, might not be seen as legitimate.  Here too, the potential for widespread violence would be high.

At the root of these potentials for violence and Fourth Generation war on American soil lie three facts the Left does not perceive.  First, most Americans will fight to prevent an ideological dictatorship in this country, especially one where the ideology, cultural Marxism, condemns them as inherently evil (i.e. white).  Second, the government’s instruments of coercion, the police and the military, are manned mostly by the Right.  At a certain point, they will refuse orders from the Left and go over to the opposition.  Third, the federal government’s legitimacy is already thin and actions such as packing the Supreme Court may collapse it altogether.  Each of these outcomes can bring systemic collapse and dis-union.  All of them together would certainly do so.

We live in interesting times.

Critical Race Theory

To his great credit, President Trump recently ordered an end to “anti-racism” training for federal employees and contractors.  A number of articles discussing his actions have referred to “critical race theory”.  What is “critical race theory”?

Critical race theory is a subset of critical theory, which in turn is a central element in cultural Marxism.  Like the bulk of that hideous ideology, it was created by the Frankfurt School, formally the Institute for Social Research, a Marxist think-tank founded in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1923 (it still exists).  When Hitler came to power, the Frankfurt School relocated to New York City, where it remained until 1947 when it returned to Frankfurt.

The Frankfurt School translated Marxism from economic into cultural terms.  The Frankfurt School’s primary goal was to destroy Western culture, which it defined as “oppressive”.  Critical theory is a tool to that end.

The term is something of a play on words.  What is the theory?  The theory is to criticize.  By submitting every aspect of Western culture to constant, unremitting criticism, it would be discredited to the point where people would abandon the ways of thinking and living it embodied.  What would replace them?  The Frankfurt School refused to answer that question, although one of its key members, Herbert Marcuse, promised a world of all play and no work.  In the 1960s, college students in large numbers believed that promise, which is the philosophical equivalent of buying the Brooklyn Bridge.

Critical theory now wells up around us in many different forms.  Feminism endlessly criticizes the family, marriage, and traditional definitions of men’s and women’s roles.  Education theory demands children be taught certain “attitudes”, including disrespect for parents and elders, rather than skills or facts.  Critical race theory says that all whites are inherently evil “racists” and “oppressors”, regardless of what individuals do.  It demands whites grovel at the feet of blacks, endlessly apologizing for “discrimination” and “white privilege”.  Even if whites do what it demands, critical race theory continues to denounce them.  Like the rest of critical theory, its demands can never be satisfied, because then the criticism would end.  Remember, the theory is to criticize, endlessly, relentlessly, until any defenders of Western culture or traditional ways of living are silenced, “cancelled” or liquidated.

Critical theory, in all its forms, says its goal is “equality”.  This goal can never be achieved, because nature has made people unequal.  So the criticism must go on forever.  But cultural Marxism’s desire for “equality” is also a lie.  What it actually seeks to do is invert all existing relationships, relationships that have evolved over many generations and reflect reality.  Inversion includes putting blacks over whites, women over men, and gays over straights.  That was exactly what the “anti-racism training” President Trump cancelled was about:  whites were to crawl on their bellies before blacks, submitting themselves to whatever demands blacks made of them.  Sometimes this was literal: showing that critical race theory had conquered him, the head of Chick-fil-a said every white man should shine a black man’s shoes, then he did exactly that, on camera.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve eaten my last Chick-fil-a sandwich.

The essence of critical theory is that it can never be satisfied.  So why should we try?  If cultural Marxists denounce us as “racists”, “sexists”, or “homophobes”, who cares?  Their boogeyman words have no real power, and they are all lies.  Men and women are inherently different and their traditional social roles reflect their inborn differences.  There are differences among races and ethnic groups within races.  Does anyone think the Cleveland Cavaliers would have won the NBA championship if the team had been all-white?  Or that Sub-saharan Africa would be what it is today if it were inhabited by Chinese?  Who pretends there are no differences between, say, Irishmen and Russians?  How many people, looking for a good time on a Saturday night, go to a Russian bar?  And moral disapproval is not a “phobia”, an irrational fear.

President Trump showed courage in the face of cultural Marxism and we should do the same.  Break its rules, defy its commands, thumb your nose at its lies, and expose what it really is: a Marxist ideology no less totalitarian in its ambitions that was the economic Marxism of the Soviet Union.  As Rod Dreher wrote, live not by lies.

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

The Court

By dying when she did–I seemed to hear a favorite of Praetorius playing in the background–Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg finally did her country a real service.  After many years of working to turn the Supreme Court into a second and all-powerful legislature, she cleared the way for President Trump to nominate a real judge, one who will seek to interpret law rather than make it.  Amy Coney Barrett is an admirable choice and should be confirmed quickly.

The Democrats complain and say the next President should make the choice.  Everyone knows that if circumstances were reversed and a Democratic President and Senate had a Court vacancy and faced an election, they would do the same thing and act before the vote.  That is all within the normal course of American politics.

The Democrats’ threat to pack the court is something else altogether.  It is a direct threat to the Supreme Court’s legitimacy.

It continues to astonish me that no one in Washington, Democratic or Republican, can grasp that the legitimacy of states everywhere, including here, is wearing thin.  So focused are they all on court (small c) politics, life inside the Beltway, that they do not see the hungry and increasingly angry eyes looking in the windows.  They do not doubt the legitimacy of the system that made them rich and powerful, so how could anyone else?  This is blindness that comes before a very great fall.

For many years polls have shown the public has little respect for Congress.  Presidents are respected (well, sometimes) by their own party and less so by the other.  But central to the legitimacy of the state itself is the legitimacy of the court system and especially the Supreme Court.

Because the Supreme Court has established its power to overrule both the legislative and Executive branches of the government–which may not have been the intent of the men who drafted our Constitution–it is the final resting place of the system’s legitimacy.  So long as the public has widespread confidence in its probity and objectivity, the system has at least some basis for its legitimacy.  Take that away and what remains?

That has been the great risk run by the liberal Justices, including Justice Ginsberg, presumably without knowing it.  Every time they invent new meanings to the Constitution, often in direct contradiction with what it says, they strike at the Court’s legitimacy and that of the state itself.  By seeing “penumbras” to the Constitution, interpreting the Commerce Clause far more broadly than the Founders intended, and adding new powers to the federal government beyond those enumerated, thus stealing from the states, they make the Court’s legitimacy questionable to growing segments of the population.  What happens when those segments add up to a majority?

Nothing would strike more powerfully at the Supreme Court’s remaining legitimacy than the Democrats’ proposal to pack the Court with new, liberal justices.  Who on the political Right would accept any ruling from a packed Court?  Once the legitimacy of the state is upheld by only one party, the state’s continuation becomes itself a partisan issue.  Because the political balance always shifts with time, at some point those who have rejected the state’s legitimacy will be in power.  What then?

In America and elsewhere, if the state is to survive, those in power must start paying attention to the question of legitimacy.  They simply assume it, but the days when they could do that and get away with it are ending.  All over the world, people are transferring their primary loyalties away from states to a wide variety of other things:  religions, ideologies, races, business enterprises, etc.  If the state attempts to suppress them with force, they fight back–and often win against state forces who are fighting for no more than a paycheck from a state they themselves despise.

If by packing the Supreme Court the Democrats destroy the legitimacy of that institution, the place where the American state’s legitimacy now most resides, they will pull the temple down on their own heads.  Justice Ginsberg’s replacement by Justice Barrett is normal politics.  De-legitimzing the Supreme Court in the eyes of half the country’s population is not.

Quoth the Maven, “Nevermore!”

I expect President Trump to be re-elected, probably by a large margin, and the Republicans to hold the Senate and retake the House.  Why?  Because by this point the number of Americans who are angry is greater than the number who are scared.  The Democrats are the party of fear and the Republicans are the party of anger.  So the latter will win.  

But what if fear does win out and Biden becomes President while the Democrats hold the House and take the Senate?  Biden is an old-line Establishment politician who is unlikely to do anything radical on his own initiative.  But he will be under pressure from the “woke” alt-Left, radicals in the House, and his own Vice-President to do some very stupid things.  If he yields, or if we suddenly find ourselves with a hard-Left broad from California running the country, the Democrats could take some actions that would rip the country apart.

The most obvious is an attempt to take away American citizens’ guns.  One Democratic hopeful who tanked early, Beto O’Rourke–it’s no surprise a Cuban sandwich made with boiled potatoes didn’t sell–said, “Are we going to take away your guns?  Absolutely!”  He’s gone, but that objective remains dear to many Democrats.  If they try it, perhaps after packing the Supreme Court and getting their kept justices to rule the Second Amendment does not mean what it says, we would see a massive urban-rural split.  One sign that Fourth Generation war is spreading would be checkpoints starting to go up in the countryside, manned by local volunteers.  More powerful still would be police and military personnel going over to the side of those saying, “Come and take it.”  In a case such as this I would watch for both.

A second possibility would be getting that packed court to overturn freedom of speech by saying “hate speech” is not protected by the Constitution.  “Hate” is the cultural Marxists’ term for any defiance of cultural Marxism.  So anyone who criticised their ideology or failed to bow before it would be on their way to the gulag.  This has already happened in other supposedly “free” countries including Canada, Britain, and France.  In Britain, a man was arrested for criticizing Islam.  At his trial, he proved that everything he said was straight from the Koran.  The judge sent him to prison, ruling that, “Truth is no defense.”  Truth is no defense in the country where our liberties originated?  Earlier generations of Britons would have ridden that judge out of town on a rail.  Americans would not be so meek, I expect, and resistance to loss of free speech could turn violent.

The action most likely to break the country apart would be opening the southern border and saying, “Come one, come all.”  ICE would be abolished, the Border Patrol would be told its mission is to rescue wandering immigrants, not expel them, and in Central America millions of people would join caravans rolling north.  The Democrats have made no secret of their strategy to overwhelm the votes of native-born Americans with those of immigrants from other cultures, guaranteeing themselves a permanent majority and making the rest of us strangers in our own country.

If they do that, I expect Texas and Arizona, at least, would mobilize their National Guard and send it to the border to hold the line against the invaders.  A Democratic President would federalize the Guards and order it home.  The Texas and Arizona governors, along with their states’ Adjutant Generals, could refuse the order.  At that point, Washington could find itself on the brink.  If it allowed its federalization order to be overridden at the state level, it would reveal itself as impotent.  If it ordered the regular military to fight the Guard, I think it would refuse.  If the generals, their jobs on the line, did order their troops to attack the National Guard, the military itself could fracture, probably on ethnic lines.  At that point, the scenario in Thomas Hobbes’ novel Victoria would have become a reality;  the federal government would have to let its cultural Marxism de-legitimize the state to the point where America comes apart.  Fourth Generation war would no longer be an intellectual construct but a dominating reality. I do not expect any of this to happen because I think President Trump will be re-elected triumphantly.  Anger will thumb its nose at fear.  If I’m wrong, history may say to our old motto, E Pluribus Unum, “Nevermore!”

MAWA

The cultural Marxists said in 2016 and said again this year that President Trump’s slogan, Make American Great Again (MAGA), is code for MAWA: Make America White Again.  The Left throws words around with little regard for their meaning; indeed, it claims “deconstruction” allows it to give any word whatever meaning it wants.  But those of us who have not fallen through the looking glass know words do have meaning, and we find once again it is useful to look at the Left’s slogan and ask what it means.

The first clue to what Make America White Again means is the word “again”.  We know America was never a really racially all-White country.  The Indians outnumbered Whites for many years after settlement began in Virginia and Massachusetts.  Blacks arrived as slaves as early as 1619.  (Had it not been for slavery, America would have very few blacks; 17th and 18th century Africans had neither ships, the navigational skills, nor the money to come here any other way.)  So whatever MAWA means, its meaning is not racial, because there is no earlier all-White America to return to.  “Again” must refer to something else.

The cultural Marxists themselves have made plain what a “White America” means to them.  It means a country that is culturally White.  The editorial in the September/October issue of The American Conservative magazine usefully shows this cultural orientation:

In their zeal to erase history, organizations like the Smithsonian Institution have. . . ventured into dangerous territory by labeling concepts such as “objective thinking”, “work before play”, “plan for the future”, and “delayed gratification” as “aspects and assumptions of whiteness” and therefore suspect. . .

Thankfully, the Smithsonian . . . issued an apology.

There was no need for an apology.  Those values and others like them are culturally White.  They represent the society-wide adoption of middle class values that began in the White 17th century Netherlands and triumphed in White 18th century England, a triumph marked by the popular success of Richardson’s novel Pamela, a paean to bourgeois virtues, in 1750.  By the Victorian period, named for a White queen, those White middle-class virtues were almost universal for all social classes in White Europe and North America, were being carried to other climes and races by White colonialism, and were being adopted by Black Americans and Hispanic Americans as well.  Middle class values work better than any others to create safe, ordered, prosperous, and free societies, and they were, and are, the creation of White people.  Oriental societies have at times had values, such as those of Confucianism, that led to safe, ordered, prosperous societies.  But those societies were not free.

If we look at the values the Smithsonian labelled “White”, we see why we should glory in them as great achievements of the White race.  “Objective thinking” means basing thought in reality.  If you want a bridge not to fall down, it helps if its engineers’ calculations were objective.  If we seek government policies that work, we must derive them from an objective look at social problems.  The opposite of “objective thinking” is magical thinking, and many primitive societies have been steeped in it.  That is why they remained primitive.

“Delayed gratification”, another “aspect and assumption of Whiteness”, is perhaps the single most important virtue in the creation of civilization itself, as well as for a successful individual life.  It means doing something that is difficult or unpleasant now because of the future benefit it will bring.  Absent delayed gratification, no capital, physical or human, can accumulate because it is all immediately consumed for momentary pleasure.  “Work before play” and “plan for the future” derive from the virtue of delayed gratification and, like it, are essential to any society or person that wants life to get better over time.  These “White” virtues–and they are White in their origins–are among Whites’ greatest contributions  to universal human happiness.  We should be offended, not that the Smithsonian labeled them White, but that it apologized for doing so.

Ironically, no part of America needs standard middle-class values more than the Black urban community.  It once adhered to those values.  That is why the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ‘60s succeeded.  White people said to themselves, “America’s colored people live the same way we do.  Why should they be subordinated just for the color of their skin?”  But just as American Blacks were on the edge of attaining the equal treatment they had long sought, cultural Marxism and its message of instant gratification flooded over the Black urban community and destroyed it from within.  The same Leftists who now portray Blacks as “victims” are themselves the victimizers.  They are the prisoners, and the middle-class virtues they condemn, White in origin, are the antidote.  Might there be a courageous rapper out there willing to don a MAWA hat in his next music video?

The View From Olympus: Maneuver Warfare and What Comes Next

The September 2020 issue of the Marine Corps Gazette announced a series of articles titled The Maneuverist Papers and offers the first, “Marine Corps Maneuver Warfare: The Historical Context,” by “Marinus”, whose initials I suspect are J.S.  The history it discusses and its analysis of the maneuver warfare movement’s “success” is generally accurate and thoughtful.  I put “success” in quotes because, while maneuver warfare was adopted as official Marine Corps doctrine, the Corps left its personnel system, education, and training largely unchanged, which means it can talk about maneuver warfare but not do it.  The Italian Army did the same thing in the late 1930s; hopefully, the Marine Corps’ results will be happier.

Marinus’s article concludes by asking,

Will there need to emerge another Gray, Boyd, Wyly, or Lind?  Should or how should maneuver warfare adapt to recent and emerging changes in warfare?  Or, more fundamentally, has warfare changed sufficiently that the Marine Corps should reconsider its basic doctrine?  Most Marines would instinctively and emphatically say, “No!”–but does that mean the question should not be asked?

I appreciate his acknowledgement–I did after all start the debate over maneuver warfare with a piece I wrote in 1976- and I would also note that with the exception of John Boyd, the rest of us (including Jeff Grelson, whom the article forgot) are still alive, functioning, and probably have one last campaign in us.

But war is evolving in such a way that the situation is wholly different.  In the 1970s through the early 1990s, the Marine Corps could choose whether to stick with Second Generation (firepower/attrition) warfare or shift to the Third Generation (maneuver warfare).  Fourth Generation war offers no such choice, because it moves in next door.

The essence of Fourth Generation war, to quote Martin van Creveld, is that what changes is not how war is fought (although that does change) but who fights and what they fight for.  In the First, Second, and Third Generations of modern war, states primarily fight other states and the fighting is done by soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen.  In the Fourth Generation, many different kinds of entities fight wars, and wars are fought by anyone who wants to fight.  War therefore turns up in many guises.

We are seeing one aspect of 4GW being fought on the streets of American cities.  Groups of young people, primarily men, who want to fight, are fighting the state’s forces, in this case police, on behalf of many “causes” that represent their primary loyalties: anarchy, black supremacy (and sometimes white supremacy, although the Right is generally fighting defensively as it should), feminism, hatred for President Trump, and just out of boredom and desire to fight.  They are wrecking, looting, and burning businesses (many of them small businesses whose owners are ruined) and any building that is a symbol of the state.  Our primary force for 4GW, the National Guard, is already engaged.  Do Marines think this is going to stop before it reaches their doors?

Beyond our southern border, three drug cartels are already stronger than the Mexican state, and Marines have been deployed to that border in the past.  Do Marines think the cartels respect borders and will stop at ours?

Wise 4GW entities fight the state’s forces by taking them from within.  Do Marines not know that gangs have penetrated the Marine Corps, in part to learn combat skills they can use against the Marines?

I have been writing and speaking about war to Marines and others since the mid-1970s.  I, and others who played central roles in the maneuver warfare movement in the Marine Corps in the 1970s through 1990s, are still able and willing to help the Corps get off its eternal sine wave and make the institutional changes needed so its maneuver doctrine is real.  But while the Marine Corps has either vegetated or steamed in circles since General Gray retired, which is almost thirty years ago, war has not stood still.  As 4GW spreads on our own soil, the Marine Corps will either learn how to win it or disappear along with the state it will have failed to defend.  This time, it has no other option.

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

Understanding the Left’s Tactics

The Left is wrong, but it is not stupid.  If we are to defeat it, we must study and understand its tactics.  Three are of special importance.

  • From other totalitarian ideologies the American Left has adopted the tactic of telling a big lie fast, immediately after or during an event, and figuring the truth, which usually comes out more slowly, will never catch up.  We’ve seen this both in Minneapolis and in Kenosha.  In Minneapolis, the lie is that a cop killed George Floyd by kneeling on his neck so he could not breathe.  The Wall Street Journal subsequently reported the facts: Floyd was on drugs, he was deliberately injuring himself while saying “I can’t breathe”–before the cops put him on the ground–and they took him down to stop him from further hurting himself, calling at the same time for an ambulance.  The coroner found Floyd did not die of asphyxiation.  The police were trying to help him, not hurt him.

In Kenosha, we still do not know the details.  But it seems as if, from the cops’ perspective, Jacob Blake was acting irrationally, in a way that could have meant he was on drugs such as PCP.  He ignored the cops’ orders and seemed to be unaffected by two tasings.  According to the August 29 Wall Street Journal, quoting the Kenosha Professional Police Association, Blake “forcefully fought with the officers, including putting one of the officers in a headlock.”  He was either carrying a knife or had one in the car he was trying to enter–a car with three young children in it.  Would it have been reasonable for a police officer to think those children were in mortal danger under those circumstances?  Remember, police are authorized to use deadly force not only to protect themselves, but to protect citizens as well.

And in the Kyle Rittenhouse case, far from being an intended “mass shooter”, he was being attacked by a hostile mob and he thought, with reason, his life was endangered.  We all have a right to defend ourselves.

To counter this tactic, we have to get the facts out fast.  Our OODA Loop must be faster than the Left’s, or at least as fast.  That is difficult because we care about the truth and they don’t.  The mainstream media, which are in the Left’s pocket, quickly report the Left’s version of events but then ignore the facts as they slowly come out.  Someone with more resources than I possess needs to create some sort of bulletin board anyone can access that withholds conclusions until the facts are available, corrects the Left’s lies, and can be relied on for accuracy across the political spectrum.  I suspect it would quickly attain widespread popularity.

  • The Left is embedding vandals, arsonists, and looters in larger “peaceful demonstrations”, then pretending the police and the Right are attacking the latter as the former run wild, smashing, looting, and burning.  The tactic of embedding can work well.  In a Marine Corps war game at Quantico some years ago, where I commanded Blue, I embedded a regiment-sized Operational Maneuver Group in a (division-size) MEF landing.  Once I had beached the whale, I popped the OMG straight for Red’s capital and thereby quickly won the war.  Red’s response was too late because they could not find the OMG among the MEF until it was on its way. 

To counter embedding, we need people on the Right who document on video, just the way the Left does, what the other side is doing and get that video out fast.  We also need to inform the cops, the local press, and the public about the embedding tactic before the game starts.  If they are all looking for it, that tactic will lose its effectiveness.  Pre-emption defeats embedding.

  • Third, the Left plays endless and seemingly purposeless word games.  But those games do have a purpose: over time, they condition the public to allow the Left to dictate everyone’s language and thereby their thoughts.  Worse, ordinary Americans come to accept being conditioned by the Left as the normal and proper state of affairs.  A recent example is the Left’s order that the word “black” begin with a capital B when referring to colored people (which in my view remains the most polite term, as it always was).  Even some media on the Right are bowing before this decree from our self-appointed censors.

Our answer should be, “Sorry, but I speak English, not Newspeak.”  In English, proper names are capitalized, most other nouns are not.  That rule extends to proper adjectives.  Therefore “Hispanics” is capitalized because Hispania is the Latin word for the country of Spain.  “Indians” is capitalized when referring to people from India, but not for American indians.  The word “whites” is not capitalized because there is no country called “Whitey,” nor is “black” because there is no country called “Blackey.”  There is the country of Niger, pronounced with a soft g, and niger is the Latin word for the color black, pronounced in classical Latin with a hard g.  I’m not sure American blacks want us to go there. . .

On the Right, the response to those tactics of the Left should be to present the facts quickly, warn beforehand what the game is and aggressively assert proper English.  Our voice must be as loud as the Left’s, but far more reliable.  Eventually, in the marketplace of ideas, that will give us the victory–assuming we can keep the marketplace open.

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

The View From Olympus: A Marine Experiment

By a “Marine experiment”, I do not mean crossing airline stewardesses with manatees in hope of producing a mermaid.  That would result only in fat stewardesses and manatees with an attitude.  My proposed experiment would have as its subject the United States Marine Corps.  Its purpose would be to find a way to make what the Marine Corps says in its doctrine consistent with what it does.

In the late 1980s and early ‘90s, when General Al Gray was Commandant, the Marine Corps adopted maneuver warfare as its doctrine.  Also known as Third Generation war, it is the Prussian/German approach to war as it developed from 1807 to 1945, with the key years being 1914-1918.  The Marine Corps remains the only American armed service to have made this important move.  The Army, the Navy, and the Air Force remain Second Generation, which is to say doctrinally obsolete.

However, what the Marine Corps actually does, in terms of its tactics, life in garrison, and institutional culture, is still mostly Second Generation.  Ever since the FMFM-1 Warfighting field manual, which remains one of the best ever written, came out, Marines have told me,”What the Marine Corps says is great, but it’s not what it does.”

Changing that so the Marine Corps’ actions match its doctrine has been the Corps’ greatest challenge for almost thirty years.  Although islands of maneuver warfare appear here and there, the products of individual commanders, those islands vanish again into the Second Generation sea as personalities change–which they do at a dysfunctionally rapid rate due to our surplus of field grade and senior officers, each of whom wants his lick at the ice cream cone of command.  The Corps has failed, and continues to fail, at meeting its main challenge.

So here’s my proposed experiment to make maneuver warfare real.  The people who seem to take maneuver warfare most seriously are the NCOs and Staff NCOs, as the pages of the Marine Corps Gazette show.  The Corps’ failure is not their failure; it is thirty years of failure by Marine Corps officers, especially the field and senior grades (lieutenants and captains, like the enlisted Marines, often make serious efforts to follow maneuver warfare doctrine).  So why don’t we put them in charge with a simple order: “make it happen!”?

All officers from the Commandant on down would take between six and twelve weeks of leave.  They would not be permitted on base during those weeks, nor could they contact the Staff NCOs who would be in charge of everything.  At the end of their prolonged period of leave (paid, of course), the officers could come back, but only as observers for another six to twelve weeks.  They could offer advice if asked, but not otherwise interfere.  At the conclusion of this second “all enlisted” period, the NCOs and Staff NCOs would turn over to the officers a Marine Corps that actually does what Warfighting says.

Could enlisted Marines succeed where Marine officers have failed for 30 years? Since we know the officers can’t do it, it’s worth a try.  If that too fails, well, the Marine Corps will join the Army, Navy, and Air Force on their ballistic courses into history’s wastebasket.  As Mark Twain said of the male teat, they are neither useful nor ornamental.  They also cost what is effectively a bankrupt country a boatload of money.  We should be able to buy defeats for less than a trillion dollars a year.

My bet is the NCOs and Staff NCOs can do it.  They did it on a small scale a year or so ago at 29 Palms, when an officerless unit had each Marine read Warfighting and then just do it.  They took on and handily beat a normal Marine unit of much larger size.  No surprise there: we’ve known the Third Generation beats the Second since May, 1940.

In the end, if Fourth Generation war sweeps over America, as looks more and more likely, it will be the people now serving as NCOs and Staff NCOs who emerge as the leaders, at least on the political Right.  Few officers will be able to adjust as their comfortable upper-middle-class world falls apart.  Enlisted Marines still come from families where people work with their hands.  They are much more in tune with the real world than those who rank above them.  If they are not given a chance to save the Marine Corps now, they will be in charge later of building new Marine Corps–one if we’re lucky, one hundred if we’re not.

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.