What’s Wrong With “Tolerance?”

One of the Left’s most frequent demands is for “tolerance.” It is a popular demand, because most people, myself included, think tolerance broadly a public good. Like anything, it can be carried to excess. One ought not, for example, tolerate boom boxes blasting barbaric music in public places. After all, we don’t force them to listen to Haydn.

Conservatives like tolerance because it helps create a climate of public order and harmony. In intolerant societies, such as Europe during the Reformation, people are quickly at each other’s throats. Conservatives do not like that, especially when it leads to murder, war, arson, destruction of historic art works and the like. During a tour of the Swedish military archives, I was handed a muster list dated 1642. The archivist said, “Turn it over.” On the other side was an illuminated medieval manuscript. The archivist commented, “Most such manuscripts ended up being used for cannon wads. It was the Reformation.”

Regrettably, with “tolerance” as with so many words, the culturally Marxist Left (now almost all of it) is playing tricks. The first, which I noted in an earlier column, is deliberately confusing tolerance with approval. This is most common with reference to “gay liberation.” The Left demands gays be tolerated, which, as with many differences, is the best solution (the old Victorian rule, “Don’t frighten the horses,” facilitates tolerance on both sides). But though they use the word “tolerance,” what they actually demand is approval, which is a very different thing. No Christian can approve sin of any kind; doing so is yet a greater sin, being a sin of the spirit not just the flesh.

So different are tolerance and approval that they are functional opposites. I only need to tolerate things I disapprove. Approval trumps toleration, as a higher degree of positive response (tolerance can be mildly positive or quite negative, in terms of the judgment it subordinates). In turn, to tolerate something I approve makes no sense, because I have no need to do so. I tolerate eating broccoli, but I have no need to tolerate eating an eclair, since I do so with enthusiasm.

By saying “tolerance” when they mean “approval,” the Left plays a game of bait and switch. The goal is to brand anyone who disapproves of sin—almost any sin, it seems—a “bigot.” Perhaps we should respond by remembering the medieval reference to “saints, martyrs, and bigots,” a bigot being someone who cleaves to the truth regardless of how hard he is pressed to abandon it. In the cultural Marxists’ usage, “bigot” is re-acquiring its old meaning.

Cultural Marxism plays a second trick with the world “tolerance,” one that reaches into almost everything it does or advocates. When cultural Marxists demand “tolerance,” what they really mean, in coded speech understood by other cultural Marxists, is “liberating tolerance.” Herbert Marcuse, a member of the Frankfurt School and perhaps the cultural Marxists leading voice in the 1960s, wrote a famous essay with that title. In it, he defined “liberating tolerance” as tolerance for all ideas and movements emanating from the Left, and intolerance for all ideas and movements coming from the right. In other words, when cultural Marxists demand “tolerance,” they are really calling for intolerance toward conservatives and their beliefs.

We see this most clearly on college campuses, where cultural Marxism is most powerful. Students who, for example, show disapproval of homosexuality, or question whether all races or ethnic groups are identical and interchangeable, are often hauled up before some kangaroo court and threatened with discipline, either reading a forced “apology” to whatever politically correct “victim” group they have “offended”–shades of North Korea—or being expelled. In contrast, no one who advocates from a leftist basis, no matter how extreme—as, for example, justifying killing cops—is ever so threatened. That is Marcuse’s “liberating tolerance” at work.

The intellectual dishonesty here is blatant. That cultural Marxists use a common word with a broadly understood meaning, but give it their own coded meaning, which is directly opposite what is commonly understood. It is straight from Orwell: war is peace, hate is love, intolerance of conservatives is tolerance. What cultural Marxists now do on campuses, they hope to do nationwide. Any expression of conservative ideas will be punishable, and the policy will be called “tolerance.” Words themselves can lie.

Conservatives should expose cultural Marxism’s lies embedded in words, and explain its tricks to the wider world. We should also reaffirm the benefits of true tolerance, tolerance as practiced in two of my favorite traditional societies, old England and Prussia. Both were famous for their broad toleration of eccentrics, and both benefited from it. At one point in the 1880s, General Helmuth von Moltke, chief of the Prussian General Staff, ordered the organization to go out and recruit the oddballs and the eccentrics, on the grounds that they usually have the best ideas. That is still true, especially of us eccentrics on the traditional right.

The View From Olympus 17: 1914 In The Pacific?

Several commentators have noticed that the Chinese-Japanese confrontation over the Senkaku Islands, exacerbated by a recent Chinese declaration of an air defense zone that includes the airspace over the Senkakus, which is also part of a similar Japanese zone, offers echoes of the crisis of 1914. The danger now, as then, is that the parties will back into a conflict without intending to do so, but with no way out.

According to the December 4 New York Times, China is now de-escalating, announcing that the zone “will not affect the freedom of overflight, based on international law, of other countries’ aircraft.” That may reflect preparation for Vice President Biden’s visit to Beijing, but I suspect it is based more on China’s timely realization that the situation could soon get out of hand, a lá 1914. That would be in no one’s interest, including China’s.

The US has not handled the crisis well to date. Our overriding interest, trumping all other considerations, is avoiding a war with China—or any other war, given our recent expensive military failures. Regrettably Washington has made it clear that it will stand with Japan, and that it regards the Senkakus as covered by the US-Japanese defense agreement. That leaves us a few errors by China, Japan, or both away from involvement in a war. We would have been wiser to restrain China by saying any attack on Japanese ships or aircraft would involve US forces, but at the same time to restrain Japan by saying the US would not go to war for the islands themselves.

That opportunity having been missed, which should we do now? The question has two answers; one tactical, one strategic. Tactically, given that our objective is to avoid war, we should propose putting the Senkakus under an international mandate—leaving their administration to, say, Sweden—for 50 or 100 years, thus kicking the can so far down the road we’re never likely to see it again. The Chinese, who are trying to establish a very shaky claim, might accept this, because it would undermine Japan’s position that there is no issue: the islands are Japanese. Japan would reject it, unless we could enable the Japanese to save face. How to do that? My proposal would be that we add an uninhabited American rock to the mandate, say, one of the many in the Aleutians. We wouldn’t miss it, and the Swedes would feel right at home. I can see Bismarck smiling at the idea.

Strategically, the 1914-style threat posed by the snit over the Senkakus points to a larger reality: our current position in east Asia has no strategic logic. We have enmeshed ourselves in two quarrels, or perhaps two-and-a-half, where we have no major interests at stake, yet where we could find ourselves in major wars. The first is the stand-off between North and South Korea, the second is the enmity between China and Japan, and the half is the fact that not only do the Chinese hate the Japanese, so do the Koreans, North and South.

The North-South Korean war—there still is no peace treaty, only an armistice—lost all strategic meaning for the United States the day communism fell in the former Soviet Union and the Cold War ended. Who controls Korea is important to Japan, Russia, and presumably the Koreans themselves. It has no more significance for American interests than who controls Bora-Bora. We have this wonderful thing called an ocean between us and them.

The same logic applies to North Korea’s nukes. If we were not involved in affairs on the Korean peninsula, there would be no reason for North Korea to target us. There is little reason in any case, since winging a highly unreliable North Korean rocket our way would result in the quick extinction of North Korea. It is still in our interest to remove what small incentive might be there. More likely is the ugly possibility that events on the Korean peninsula could involve us in another expensive land war. Again, who controls post-Cold War Korea has no strategic significance for the United States. Korea is not worth the bones of a single American grenadier.

We have equally little at stake in what is going to be a long feud between Japan and China, one that at some point will almost certainly result in war. Each party views the other both as a threat and with contempt, historic attitudes that go back centuries. Our alliance with Japan, like so many of our other alliances, benefits only Japan. Without it, she would have to go nuclear. That is a problem for China, Russia, and Korea, but not us. Our overriding interest in a Sino-Japanese war is staying out of it. That means the Japanese alliance is a net debit for the United States, one we should liquidate in an orderly manner.

The half-conflict is between Korea, North and South, and Japan. It may surprise Americans to say so, but this other ancient enmity is also likely to result in war at some point. The aggressor is more likely Korea than Japan—again, North Korea, South Korea, or both (it is the one cause in which the two could happily join). The South Korean Air Force and, especially, Navy are designed more for war with Japan than with North Korea. That is not by accident. All Koreans relish the idea of a war with Japan. It will be only the latest when it comes, in a line that goes back centuries. Only Americans think they can ignore or undo historic hates, an illusion that all too often leaves us caught up in them.

The reason an assassination in Sarajevo in 1914 led to world war is that other European powers, especially but not exclusively Russia, had involved themselves in the Balkans unnecessarily and in ways that contradicted their main interest, which was preserving peace in Europe. The Danube should have formed a fire wall with Balkan wars left to be Balkan wars only. The Pacific should form a similar fire wall for the United States today. Wars are coming in Asia, probably the last major wars among state militaries. Our position should be that of an observer of historical tableaux vivant, not a participant in them.

The View From Olympus 16: Be Thankful for Mr. Karzai

In this Thanksgiving week, all that stands between the United States and a strategic blunder of the first order is Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Each and every one of us should be deeply thankful to him for blocking a long-term security agreement between the US and Afghanistan that makes no sense.

After more than a decade of war in Afghanistan, with more than 2000 dead and hundreds of billions of dollars spent, most Americans are looking forward to leaving. Regrettably, the American government is not. It has negotiated a treaty with the Afghan government—the treaty Mr. Karzai now refuses to sign—that would keep us in the graveyard of empires for another ten years. Yes, you read that right. Until 2024, the US would maintain a force of as many as 12,000 troops in Afghanistan. We would also pay the Afghan government at least $8 billion annually, for a total of $80 billion.

Why? The question has no rational answer, in terms of US interests. Everything achievable in Afghanistan was achieved within the first 30 days of US intervention. We pushed the Taliban government out of Kabul, put in power its old opponent, the Northern Alliance, and gave the latter some weapons and some money. That’s all an invader can do.

We have not extended the Afghan government’s authority beyond Kabul, because Afghan governments’ authority almost never runs beyond Kabul (the Taliban government was an exception). We have not defeated the Taliban, because it represents the Pashtun, and the Pashtun are happy to keep fighting anyone and everyone from now until doomsday. We did drive al Qaeda out of Afghanistan, but it quickly found a better base in Pakistan. It had in any case largely worn out its welcome before we intervened.

Having done all we could a dozen years ago, we have remained in country, losing men, spending money and accomplishing nothing of any lasting value. Now, to ice that cake, the US government wants to stay another ten years. If we do, past is prologue: we will lose men, spend money and achieve nothing more than we did in those first 30 days.

The proposed long-term security agreement makes no strategic sense. Regrettably, seen from Washington, it does make political sense, which is why Washington is so eager for Mr. Karzai to sign it. It makes political sense because neither the Obama administration nor the Pentagon want to face the fact that we have lost yet another Fourth Generation war. The question of “Who lost Afghanistan?” terrifies the politicians, as the questions of “Why do we keep losing against guys in bathrobes and flip-flops armed with rusty AKs?” terrifies the Pentagon. If you were spending a trillion dollars a year and losing, you’d be scared too.

A moral question should trump the political concerns: can we rightly send more American soldiers to their deaths and waste tens of billions of additional dollars so politicians and generals don’t have to face facts? The answer is obvious, but moral issues cut no ice in Washington. The only question politicians—those in uniforms as well as those in suits—ask is, “Is it good for me?”

So the American public is left depending on the whims of President Karzai. His refusal to sign the agreement, despite agreeing to do so, is a weak reed to lean on. A man of readily changeable mind, he will probably change it again and let us make the blunder Washington is eager to make. Mr. Karzai’s mind has been noted to be especially changeable when presented with hard currency.

The real comment here is on the American electorate. It will be too busy with turkey and football to pay attention to a treaty with Afghanistan. It won’t like losing more guys or more money in a bottomless pit. But it won’t care enough up front to prevent it from happening, as it prevented an American attack on Syria just a few months back. Then, it deluged Congress with messages saying, “No more wars.” Now, its answer to extending a losing war for ten more years is “Huh?” Our troops and our pocketbooks deserve better.

The View From Olympus 15: Will the Real Chuck Hagel Please Come Forward?

Years ago, my old colleague Paul Weyrich said to me of then-Senator Chuck Hagel, whom he knew well, “He thinks about the Pentagon the same way you do.”

So far, there has been little sign of that from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. But a piece in the November 7 New York Times, “Cuts Have Hagel Weighing Realigned Military Budget,” suggests the real Chuck Hagel may be making his debut. The Times writes,


The Pentagon has traditionally managed rivalries among services by giving each more or less equal shares of the base military budget.

Today, under pressure from the threat of nearly $1 trillion in forced spending reductions, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the days of automatic, equitable allotment to the Army, Air Force and Navy may be over.

“We’re challenging every past assumption, every past formula,” Mr. Hagel said in an interview.


Such assertions are frequently heard in Washington. Most often, the mountain brings forth a mouse. Minor rearrangements in the deck chairs are presented as major reforms, and business as usual goes on largely untroubled. That will probably be the case here as well.

But what if Secretary Hagel really means what he says? How might he go about challenging every past assumption and formula? He could start by facing a few basic facts the Pentagon does its best to ignore.

First, geography dictates the United States is a sea power, not a land power. Like Great Britain, we are essentially an island. We face no conventional military threat on either our northern or our southern land border, although we face a serious Fourth Generation threat to the south—against which our conventional land forces are entirely useless. In terms of potential threats from other states, all lie overseas.

This means that while we must maintain naval superiority, we have little need for land forces. Neither of our two armies, the United States Army and the U.S. Marine Corps, are strategic necessities. If both disappeared tomorrow in a large cloud of red ink, we would miss little beyond the Marine guards at our embassies. Militarily, the only capability we would lose would be that of waging land wars overseas—and losing them, as we have proven adept at doing.

In theory, both the Army and the Marine Corps might learn enough lessons from our recent defeats to be able to win in the future. But neither shows any interest in doing so. The senior leadership of the Marines is as intellectually dead as I have seen it in my forty years of working with the Corps. The Army’s situation appears even worse. Testifying recently on Capitol Hill, the Army’s Chief of Staff, General Odierno, in response to a question as to whether the lessons of recent counterinsurgency fighting would be lost as those from Vietnam were, in effect said yes. He replied that in his view, the Army should focus on “combined arms warfare,” which is milspeak for fighting formal battles against the armies of other states. Since land wars against other states are something which, in the face of Fourth Generation war, we should not fight—the losing states will often disintegrate, giving the Fourth Generation, our real enemy, another victory—General Odierno in effect said the Army will have no strategic utility. It will be knights on horseback facing an army of musketeers. We could save money and provide public entertainment by reducing it to a company of actual knights on horseback to tour around the country staging tournaments. Perhaps it could get a gig with Monty Python.

The Times also reported that “Mr. Hagel said he was assessing whether there were savings in relying more on the National Guard and Reserves than on the active-duty armed forces.” The easy answer is yes. A National Guardsman costs about one-third as much as an active-duty soldier.

But there is more than budgetary logic to turning to the Guard and Reserve. The Air Guard and Reserve almost always perform better than the regulars. They are more open to aircraft such as the A-10, the only airplane in our inventory that can effectively support troops on the ground (and which the Air Force is sending to the bone yard). It is hard to think the Air Guard and Reserve, whose members have real jobs in the real world, would be buying an airplane as defective in design as the F-35.

As to the ground Guard, it is far and away the most relevant force we have for Fourth Generation war. Being now 0-4 against Fourth Generation opponents overseas (Lebanon,Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan) and with both the Army and the Marine Corps committed to learning nothing from their failures, we are probably not going to fight the Fourth Generation overseas again. If we do, we will again lose.

The real Fourth Generation threat is here, on our own soil. It is a threat we must confront, and against which we dare not lose. It manifests itself as a myriad of loyalties to things other than the state: gangs, races and ethnic groups, religions (think Islam), ideologies, “causes,” and so on.

These are at present law enforcement challenges, and it is greatly to a state’s advantage to keep them in that category. If they can break out to the point where they present military threats, threats beyond what law enforcement can handle, they are well on the way to victory over the state.

When law enforcement needs reinforcement, the Guard is where it turns. It is where it should turn, because the deployment of the regular armed forces in support of law enforcement is problematic. It is problematic in terms of dangers to our liberties, in terms of public perception, and in terms of regular soldiers’ skills, which come down to killing people and destroying things. Those are activities the American public does not want to see on American soil.

The National Guard, in contrast, specializes in skills people need and want. The Guard is what rescues them in case of natural disaster. It usually works unarmed. It presents no threat, because it is made up of our own friends and neighbors. The skills Guardsmen carry over from civilian life are an asset to their work in the Guard, especially when their communities face emergencies. Fourth Generation war is above all a contest for legitimacy. Deployment of the Guard enhances the state’s legitimacy, while deployment of the active duty armed forces in domestic emergencies can easily work against it.

So, Mr. Secretary, the logic of the challenge of “every past assumption” waits to serve you. Other than Special Operations Forces, our two land armies represent little but large expense. The same is true for most of the active-duty Air Force. We still need a robust Navy, as islands always do. But beyond SOF, the future of our air and ground forces is to be found in the Reserve and Guard. They also happen to represent enormous budgetary savings compared to active duty forces. Strategy and budgetary pressures for once work in concordance. All you have to do is go with the logical flow. Will the real Chuck Hagel please come forward?

Race or Culture?

Several people associated with traditionalRIGHT recently attended the National Policy Institute conference in Washington, D.C. (I did not go). The conference raised a question they asked me: can America be successful as a multi-racial society?

To answer that question, and many others, conservatives turn to history. History tells us America was successful—well-ordered, safe, and prosperous—in the past, despite being multi-racial and multi-ethnic. However, that America also had something we have lost: a highly successful common culture.

America’s historic culture reflected the origin of its people. It was, from broadest to most specific, Judeo-Christian, white, northern European, and Anglo-Saxon. Most of our early settlers came from Great Britain or Germany. They brought the historic culture of those areas with them, and it became ours.

The United States was highly fortunate, because Anglo-Saxon culture is a functional culture. Despite the blatherings of “multiculturalism,” very few cultures work well over time. Outside the Western tradition, only Chinese culture makes the grade. Even within the West, not all cultures are equal. Northern European culture has created order and prosperity better than southern European culture, at least in the modern period. That is why North America has had a happier history than South America. Even within northern Europe, some cultures work better than others. The top position is occupied by exactly the culture we got: Anglo-Saxon culture. Again, thanks to some accidents of history—North America had little gold to draw the Spaniards—we were lucky.

If our early ethnic origins formed our culture, a development that began in England in the 18th century refined it: the adoption by society as a whole of the values of the middle class. That triumph was marked by the huge success of Richardson’s novel Pamela around 1750; Fielding’s satire written in response and in defense of upper-class values, Shamela, (a far better read), could not stem the tide. Lower-class values held their physical if not moral ground until the Victorians came along. One of their many great achievements was bringing the lower classes to embrace middle-class values and, eventually, behavior. If we look at America in its most successful years, roughly 1890 to 1960, we see a country that was culturally overwhelmingly middle class and, at least in the public square, Anglo-Saxon.

That country was also multi-racial and multi-ethnic. Then as now, America had a substantial black minority. It took longer to adopt middle class values and (again, at least in the public square) Anglo-Saxon behavior, but it did. By the inter-war years, and up into the 1960s, the black urban community was not a bad place. It was safe, for blacks and whites alike. In the 1950s, 80% of black children belonged to families with a married mother and father. Those families’ incomes came from work, not welfare. Most of them kept their houses and yards neat and tidy. They gathered two or three times a day for home-cooked meals. Black women knew how to hold jobs and be good homemakers at the same time. Especially for women and children, the black church played central roles. You will never meet better Christians (or cooks) than the black “church ladies.”

America was also multi-ethnic. Beginning with the Irish and the Italians in the 19th century, Americans’ origins broadened out far beyond their original British and German sources. The process was fraught with difficulties, and beginning in 1920 we limited the number of immigrants to ensure we could acculturate them adequately. But acculturate them we did. So successful were the New York City public schools as agents of acculturation that even in that babble of many tongues, immigrants from places as different from Britain and Germany as the ghettos of Poland and the mountains of Amenia were acculturated in two, sometimes one, generation. At home, in their churches, and in their clubs they might maintain their ethnic traditions, but in the public square most became middle-class Anglo-Saxons. If they wanted to get ahead, they had to.

What has turned America into an increasingly dysfunctional country has not been race or ethnicity, but abandonment of the common culture. “Multiculturalism,” which is a tool cultural Marxists use to destroy their hated enemy, Western culture, has wrecked the place. The virtually unanimous consensus of American elites on the need for all citizens, regardless of race or ethnic origins, to “Americanize,” i.e. to adopt middle-class, Anglo-Saxon culture, has been replaced with a doctrine intended to fracture the country. Regrettably, it has succeeded. No one has suffered more from its loss than America’s blacks, where a disastrous culture of instant gratification now holds wide sway.

Conservatives know that what worked in the past can work again. We can again become a well-ordered and prosperous country if we again embrace the common culture we used to share; middle-class, Anglo-Saxon culture. Our success was a product of that culture. The first step in brining it back is to overturn the intellectual and political hegemony of cultural Marxism and break “multiculturalism,” its sword.

The View From Olympus 14: The Power of Weakness

One of the most important contributions made by the Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld to Fourth Generation war theory (he calls it “non-trinitarian war”) is the power of weakness. It is also one of the most difficult for the US military to understand.

A recent event, the US assassination by drone of the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud, illustrates both points. The American government hailed the killing as a victory. But in Pakistan, the response was outrage. An article in the November 4 New York Times, “Death by Drone Turns a Villain Into a Martyr,” reported that

Virtually nobody openly welcomed the demise of Mr. Mehsud, who was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Pakistani civilians…

The problem, some analysts say, is that hostility toward the United States may be clouding Pakistanis’ ability to discern their own best interests. In the conflagration over Hakimullah Mehsud’s death, (Boston University professor) Mr. (Adil) Najam said, the government has failed to distinguish between opposition to drone strikes and to the removal of a homicidal, militant enemy.

It’s very destructive that we can’t untangle these two things,” he said. “The reaction has become absolutely absurd.”

Actually, if we understand the power of weakness, the reaction is inevitable. The problem is, almost no one—perhaps no one at all—in the American national security establishment does understand it.

To do so, you must start with Col. John Boyd’s three levels of war: physical, mental, and moral. These do not replace the three traditional levels of war; tactical, operational, and strategic. Rather, Boyd’s three levels and the traditional three levels interact. The best way to think of how they may interact is through a simple nine-box grid, with physical/mental/moral on one axis and tactical/operational/strategic on the other (You will find this grid in the K.u.K. Marine Corps Field Manual FMFM 1-A, here).

The US military focuses virtually all its efforts on one box, the physical/tactical box. This is typical of Second Generation militaries, which visualize war as putting firepower on targets in a contest of attrition. That is why we see killing enemies with drone strikes as victories.

But the physical/tactical box is the weakest on the grid. The most powerful box, where actions decide the outcomes of wars, is the moral/strategic box. That is where intelligent Fourth Generation entities focus their efforts, which is why they usually win, despite being far weaker physically than their state opponents.

In fact, they win at the moral/strategic level not despite the fact that they are physically weak, but at least in part because of it. To onlookers, the two sides appear to be David and Goliath. As can Creveld emphasizes, most Fourth Generation forces are physically very, very weak. They are mostly made up of guys in bathrobes and flip-flops armed with rusty AKs and bombs made out of chicken manure. State armed forces, in contrast, are armed with things like drones.

Drones may be the weapon with the most moral boomerang effect. A drone strike puts no American in any danger. The operator sits in an air conditioned office on American soil, puts in his shift, then goes home for dinner. If a drone is lost, it’s no big deal. Fourth Generation forces have no weapons that can reach the drone. Drones fly over their heads all the time, and they can do nothing about it. A drone-armed Goliath is enormous, and the Fourth Generation David is tiny, so tiny his situation seems hopeless—as it is at the physical level.

Which is what makes him powerful morally. That is the power of weakness, and one question makes that power clear: in the 3000 or so years the story of David and Goliath has been told, how many listeners have identified with Goliath?

Once we understand the moral level of war, we can easily understand why virtually all Pakistanis now view Mr. Mehsud, a mass murderer, as a martyr. He was killed by Goliath in a fight where he had no chance at all. Not just this drone strike, but all drone strikes have the same effect. We win physically and tactically at the expense of making ourselves a hated monster and thus losing morally and strategically. The drone calls forth its nemesis, the suicide bomber, because people will do anything, including kill themselves, to get back at Goliath.

We may still find it difficult to grasp why Pakistanis would rally to the cause of someone who had murdered thousands of them. Again, van Creveld offers the answer: at the moral level, the weak and the strong face different sets of rules. The weak can kill thousands of civilians without generating outrage because they are so weak. They have no “precision” munitions, they can make no claims of an ability to target him but not her. We boast all the time about how “precise” our weapons, including drones, are. So obviously when we kill civilians, we intended to. Just as a child can get away with behavior an adult cannot, so the weak can get away with actions the strong cannot.

The American military understands none of this. Nor, for the most part, is it interested (SOF may be one exception). It does what it does, namely putting firepower on targets. If that doesn’t work, it loses again, shrugs, and goes on to do the same thing someplace else. So long as the money keeps flowing in, defeat does not seem to concern it, and military theory is irrelevant to it. So the weak keep winning, as around the world, the state withers away.


“Racism” is one of cultural Marxism’s favorite boogeymen. The accusation is thrown about so loosely that it has effectively lost most of its meaning. It now signifies little more than something or someone cultural Marxism does not like.

But it is nonetheless worthy of some exploration, because there is both a false and a true racism. To understand the difference, we must first grasp what cultural Marxists mean with all their “ism” words. To take a word such as race or sex and add an “ism” to it is to say that the thing itself is a construct, a castle in the air with no foundation in fact. Thus, according to the cultural Marxists, differences between races or between the sexes are not real. Either they do not exist, or they exist only because they are “socially determined,” i.e. created by psychological conditioning. In the Rousseauian state of nature all leftist ideologues believe in, there are no differences between sexes, races, or ethnic groups.

Here we again see one of the defining characteristics of all ideologies, namely their demand that certain aspects of reality be ignored. As everyone knows from personal observation, differences between races and ethnic groups within races are real, when speaking of groups as wholes. Does anyone pretend there are no differences between, say, Swedes and Italians, or Irishmen and Russians? How many people, looking for a good time on a Saturday night, go to a Russian bar? Similarly, does anyone who knows West Africa suggest there are no differences between Hausas and Ibos? When differences among ethnic groups within races are so plain, how can anyone grounded in reality think there are no differences between races? Again, our own observations, and the observations of many generations before our own, make differences clear when speaking of races or ethnic groups as wholes.

Thus we see that cultural Marxism’s charge or “racism” is inherently wrong. By definition, something cannot be simultaneously a fact and a construct. The two are opposite in nature. Since differences between races and ethnic groups are facts, the statement that they are constructs, which is what the word “racism” itself says, is false.

There is, however, a real racism, one that is contrary to fact. Real racism is believing that all members of a race or ethnic group must share the characteristics of the group. Why is this counter-factual? Because individual variation is wider than group norms.

Here is a quick example. Let us say you have two tasks to be performed. You need someone to cook a dinner, and you also need someone to drive a train. You have two people, one for each task. One is a Swede, the other an Italian. That is all you know about them. Which person will you assign to which task? Anyone, including cultural Marxists, who know anything about either Swedish cooking or Italian trains knows the obvious answer. The Swede drives the train and the Italian cooks the dinner. This offers the greatest chance of arriving at your destination safely, on time, and without indigestion.

However, we all also know that there are fine Swedish cooks and safe, responsible Italian locomotive engineers. As we come to know more about our two choices as individuals, we may find ourselves choosing this particular Swede to cook dinner and this particular Italian to drive our train. In other words, we recognize that individual variation is wider than group norms.

If we want to avoid real racism, we will want to do our best to judge people as individuals rather than as members of this or that group. Often, this is not possible. Self-preservation may dictate we act on the basis of group behavior. But when and where we can, we should desire to know more about someone than just their race or ethnic group before we make judgments about them.

The irony here is that cultural Marxism, at the same time it squawks “racism” like the parrot says “Polly want a cracker,” demands we consider people not as individuals but as members of groups—race, ethnic group, sex, etc. Cultural Marxism is all about “privileging” one ethnic group over another—blacks over whites, women over men, gays over straights, and so on. It has no room for individual differences.

Conservatism does, because conservatism is based on observation of reality over time, not on ideology. As Russell Kirk wrote, conservatism is the negation of ideology. Unlike Marcuse, we embrace the reality principle, we don’t reject it. Reality says differences among races are real. It also says we should be wary about giving them more importance than facts warrant.

The View From Olympus 13: Two Parallels

Historical parallels are simultaneously risky and useful. The risks are two. First, events seldom, if ever, follow exactly the same track twice. Two situations that look very much alike at the outset may reach entirely unlike destinations. Second, parallels may be applied to situations that are entirely dissimilar, either from ignorance or out of a conscious effort to deceive. The neocons’ repeated spotting of “Munich in 1938” in circumstances that have nothing whatever in common with Munich is a mixture of both.

But historical parallels are also useful, which is why we continue to draw them. While they cannot give us answers, they can spur us to ask the right questions. They alert us to look for factors and dangers we might otherwise miss. They can help us avoid making the same mistake twice, though we can always make new mistakes.

Two current situations bring two different historical parallels to mind. The first situations is the growing friction—it is not yet a crisis—between Japan and China over the islands the Japanese call the Senkakus. The parallel is the crisis of July 1914, which led to World War I. Now as then, no Great Power’s vital interests are at stake. The islands are uninhabited and occupy no geographic choke point. Russia received no benefit from Serbia, and the House of Hapsburg had no shortage of archdukes (though Franz Ferdinand was especially able and would have made a fine emperor). Now as then, what is at stake is pride. China wants to show the world she can no longer be humiliated, and Japan is no longer willing to play the role of defeated power. In 1914, Austria (with good reason) was fed up with Serbia tweaking her nose, and Russia wanted to avenge her humiliation by Austria in the Bosnian Annexation Crisis of 1908 (a humiliation Russia actually inflicted on herself through her foreign minister’s incompetence).

The warning the 1914 parallel offers is to us, as an ally of Japan. Just as it was madness for Europe to go to war over the death of an Austrian archduke and Vienna’s resultant ultimatum to Serbia, so it would be insanity for the United States to go to war with China over three islands. Japan is no more a strategic asset to us than Serbia was to Russia; now as then, the “ally” is a strategic liability, not a benefit. Unfortunately, now as then, Washington is allowing a useless alliance to drag us toward a potential war where we have no real interests at stake. Washington has said that if fighting erupts over the Senkakus, we will act militarily in support of Japan. Could this be viewed in Tokyo as a blank check similar to that Berlin gave Vienna, and Paris had already given St. Petersburg? Indeed it could. One hopes Washington understands that this is one parallel we very much do not want to play out any farther than it has already gone, which is to say too far.

The other interesting parallel is that between the war in Syria and the Thirty Years’ War. Like the Thirty Years’ War, the war in Syria is spreading. It is drawing in outside powers. It is driven by a mixture of state and religious motives. It has let loose forces that make a compromise peace extremely difficult. As in 1648, it may be that when peace finally comes, it will be peace of exhaustion. And there may be a whole lot more war to come before the combatants reach that point.

The caution that the Thirty Years’ War parallel raises is for outside powers, including the United States and Russia. The warning is, let this burn out locally, however long that may take. Do not get directly involved, because doing so will not shorten the conflict but lengthen it. Syria and its surrounding region will suffer more, not less, if outside powers use it for their battleground. “Humanitarian intervention” today has its parallel in intervention in support of co-religionists then, and it is no more likely to benefit those it is intended to benefit. By some accounts, the Thirty Years’ War reduced Germany’s population from 16 million to 6 million.

From a Fourth Generation war perspective, he Thirty Years’ War parallel points to something else as well. The Thirty Years’ War began as a contest between religious sects and ended up as a war between states acting on the basis of national interests. The war in Syria began as a war to control a state but has already morphed into a fight between religious sects. Just as the Peace of Westphalia that ended the Thirty Years’ War in 1648 established state dominance, so could it be that the war in Syria will end by sweeping away the region’s states in favor of entities based on religion, such as caliphates? As I said, historical parallels help us ask questions, not answer them.


If cultural Marxists have not already accused TraditionalRight of “hate,” they will. Why is it inevitable? Because in the vocabulary of cultural Marxism, “hate” is any open defiance of cultural Marxism. And TraditionalRight exists in part to defy cultural Marxism in as many ways as it can.

Most, if not all, ideologies have their own vocabularies. They take existing words and give them their own definitions, thus creating a code through which they can send two different messages simultaneously; one to other believers in the ideology and another to unsuspecting average citizens. When cultural Marxists accuse someone of “hate,” they tell most people “these are nasty, violent individuals or organizations,” while to other cultural Marxists the label means “this or these are dangerous enemies.” Cultural Marxism will tolerate a certain amount of criticism, but it is terrified of open defiance because it threatens to undermine the psychological conditioning that is the basis of its power. If someone can walk up to their clay idol and break off its nose, why should anyone fear it?

An example of the use of this kind of code by ideologies occurred at Dartmouth College a few years before I arrived there as a freshman in 1965. The college sponsored a debate between the famous socialist Norman Thomas and Dartmouth history professor J.C. Adams on the subject, “Does the Soviet Union want peace?” Thomas quoted one Soviet document after another calling for peace. J.C. Adams demolished him by opening the official Soviet dictionary and quoting its definition of peace: “The state of affairs prevailing under socialism.” In Soviet coded speech, “peace” had become another word for conquest.

So it is with “hate” in the mouths of cultural Marxists. “Hate” is any defense of Western culture, the Christian religion, the white race, men, or heterosexuals. Why? Because cultural Marxism labels all of these as evil, the equivalents of “capitalists and landlords” in the vocabulary of the old, Soviet Marxism. A member of one of the inherently evil groups need not do anything wrong to be condemned; they are damned simply by what they are. The only acceptable behavior from any member of a condemned group is endless, groveling apologies for daring to exist. Anything else is becoming “an enemy of the people” in economic Marxism or “hate” in cultural Marxism.

There is a wonderful irony here. Cultural Marxists themselves are haters of the first order. They hate the West, religious faith, white men, heterosexuals, non-Feminist women, conservative blacks, any ideology or set of beliefs different from their own, all of history (“oppression”), sexual morals—the list is endless. But none of this hate qualifies as “hate,” because it proceeds from cultural Marxism. On the contrary, it represents virtue. If this all sounds like Newspeak from 1984, it is.

When cultural Marxists accuse TraditionalRight of “hate,” we open a bottle of champagne. It means we are doing our job—and yours. We are defying a hideous ideology, one that seeks to overturn every natural relationship and destroy all that is true, good, or beautiful. And we really, really hate that.

The View From Olympus 12: States and Gangs

The spread of Fourth Generation war means that as we watch states exit the world stage left, we will see gangs entering from stage right. This phenomenon is visible to some degree almost everywhere.

El Salvador is a country where the process has gone so far that in many areas, the gangs are more powerful than the state. The Sunday, October 6 New York Times carried a story on how El Salvador successfully dealt with the gang problem, at least for a while. It made a deal with the gangs.

“Making a Deal With Murderers,” by Oscar Martinez, tells how gang violence virtually destroyed the life of the people of El Salvador:

“The year 2011 was one of the deadliest since the end of El Salvador’s civil war in 1992. There were an appalling 4,371 murders—11 people killed every day. With 70 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, it was one of the most violent countries in the world…

The cause of the bloodshed was no secret: the war between the rival gangs Barrio 18 and Mara Salvatrucha.”

Both gangs, interestingly, got their starts not in El Salvador, but in southern California. Of course, the American answer (for other countries as well as itself) was and remains more effective law enforcement.

That is the best answer to all Fourth Generation threats—where it is possible. But in El Salvador, as in a growing number of countries, it was not possible. The state was simply too weak relative to the gangs.

So, the Times reported, the government did the next best thing: it negotiated with the gangs. It denied doing so, but the Times reporter is quite confident it did. The main thing the government seems to have offered to gangs, in return for lowering the level of violence, is better prison conditions. The Times story stressed how important that is:

“The prison issue is hugely important to the gangs: sooner or later gang members end up there, and gang operations are largely run by the leaders inside, where the conditions are truly filthy and inhumane.”

In return, the gangs did lower the level of violence. El Salvador remains a violent place by our standards, but the Times piece estimates that the partial truce had saved more than 2000 lives.

As states continue to weaken, more and more of them will confront rising gang violence and consequent declining civic order. The state’s first responsibility is the maintenance of order. It was for that purpose the state arose, and if it cannot do the job its legitimacy will vanish.

The question then becomes how to restore order. The only possible answer is, by any means that will work. If the state is still capable of it, bloody repression has much to recommend it. But a growing number of states will not be capable of it, either because they are too weak physically or because the state leadership is too weak morally. At that point, the Salvadoran answer may be the right one: cut a deal.

Making a deal with powerful gangs is what the late Roman Empire had to do. That did not end entirely well, but it had no alternative. Modern states, some of them, will also have no alternative. It is better to make a deal that reduces the violence than to let it rage unchecked. The latter course merely results in the emergence of another stateless region. A weak state is better than none.