The View From Olympus 4: Calling Mr. Holmes

The Marine Corps considers itself America’s premier fighting force, and on the whole I would agree. It attracts the best recruits; Marine Boot Camp remains rigorous; it has, at least on paper, a Third Generation doctrine of maneuver warfare. From the mid 1970s up through much of the 1990s it earned a reputation as the most intellectual American armed service. Marines read serious books, and the Marine Corps Gazette was widely regarded as the best American military journal.

It is therefore a mystery how and why “the canon,” the list of seven books which I discussed in my previous column and which take the reader from the First Generation of modern war into the Fourth, disappeared from the Marine Commandant’s official Reading List, a list of books Marines are supposed to know.

The facts are these. The canon was on the previous version of the Commandant’s Reading List. It was put there by the Expeditionary Warfare School, the Marine Corps’ school for captains. While not called “the canon,” the books were in the correct order. When a new version of the list was released by the Commandant in January, they were gone. All of them, including the most important book on war written in the last quarter century, Martin van Creveld’s The Transformation of War, had been deleted.

How did this happen? I have no idea. I doubt the Commandant personally removed them. He may not even have noticed the change. But it is hard to believe no one noticed their absence in all the reviews such a document usually gets.

Why did it happen? Here is where we need our friend Mr. Holmes. It is hard to imagine a motive for an act so damaging to Marines and so embarrassing to the Marine Corps. These seven books aren’t just biographies of Chesty Puller. They contain what Marines most need to know if they are to orient, that word so emphasized by John Boyd, if they are to understand where their institution stands on the historical time-line of modern war and where it needs to go. Put simply, they offer what Marines need to know to win.

The authors are all highly respected scholars. Robert Doughty, the top American expert on the French Army in the 20th century (from which we learned our current way of war) was the chairman of the History Department at West Point. Bruce Gudmundsson, whose Stormtroop Tactics is the best book on the inception of maneuver warfare, teaches at Quantico. Marin Samuels is, as Bruce puts it, the one Englishman in his generation who really understands the German Army. Martin van Creveld is the most insightful military historian now writing. He has also taught at the Marine Corps’ schools at Quantico. So why are all these scholars now exiled from the official Marine Corps reading list?

One theory is that, in a masterful example of infiltration at the strategic level, either the Taliban or al Qaeda silently took over Headquarters Marine Corps. They ditched their turbans, got short haircuts, and learned to say “aye aye, sir” without an accent. While this might sound implausible, it does answer the question of motive. Someone who wanted to lead the Marine Corps to defeat would also want to delete the canon from the Commandant’s Reading List. Why would anyone else do something so damaging?

So it is time to call in Mr. Holmes. Perhaps Chesty is the dog that did not bark.

While he is here, we might ask Mr. Holmes to solve another mystery: why, being now 0-4 against Fourth Generation opponents, the Marine Corps is not acting to do anything differently? I suspect the two mysteries may be related. Both point to the theory of Taliban infiltration, since Fourth Generation forces certainly don’t want the Marine Corps to do anything differently. As things now stand, they have the game down pat.

Let’s hope Mr. Holmes will take the job. Both cases seem sufficiently curious to attract his attention. Of course, the Marine Corps will have to break DOD regulations and let him smoke his pipe. No gentleman can think without his pipe. And there’s another mystery for Mr. Holmes attention: how can a military service expect its men not to fear bombs or bullets but to live in mortal terror of “offended” women and second-hand smoke?

The View From Olympus 3: Some 4GW Resources

French tanks move to the front towards Sedan
French tanks move to the front towards Sedan


For those wishing to learn more about the intellectual framework I call the Four Generations of Modern War, some useful resources are available. The first is “the canon,” a series of seven books which, if read in the given order, will take the reader from the First Generation into the Fourth (my colleague Major Greg Thiele, USMC, has an article on the canon in the June 2013 Marine Corps Gazette). The books are:

1) The Enlightened Soldier: Scharnhorst and the Militaerische Gesellschaft in Berlin, 1801-1805 by Charles E. White, (Praeger, Westpower, CT, 1989) Scharnhorst was the key figure in the Prussian military reform movement that rebuilt the Prussian Army after the disastrous defeat of 1806. Without Scharnhorst’s reforms, the German Army would probably not have been able to develop Third Generation war in World War I, more than 100 years later. This is a history not only of adaptation and innovation in the First Generation, but of the importance of ideas in war as well. When I taught a course on the canon for Marine captains at Quantico, one of them said to me, “This book explains why we are reading all the other books.”

2) The Seeds of Disaster: The Development of French Army Doctrine, 1919-1939 by Robert A Doughty (Archon Books, Hamden, CT, 1986) This somewhat dry book is essential to understanding the US military today, because what we think of as “the American way of war” was copied wholesale from the French during and after World War I. Every American officer to whom I lent my copy said on returning it, “This is us.” The reader can skip much of the material on French Army organization; it is the Second Generation doctrine that remains alive today.

3) Stormtroop Tactics: Innovation in the German Army, 1914-1918 by Bruce Gudmundsson (Praeger, Westport, CT, 1989) This is the definitive book in English on the development of Third Generation war by the German Army in World War I. By 1918, Blitzkrieg was conceptually complete, lacking only the means to overcome the defenders’ mobility advantage at the operational level, which is what the Panzer divisions provided in World War II. When I asked General Hermann Balck whether Blitzkrieg was developed mostly 1914-1918 or 1918-1939, he replied, “It was all 1914-1918.” Bruce Gudmundsson co-hosted the Modern War television show with me for several years, and all his work is superb (you can probably still find his excellent “Tactical Notebook” series somewhere on the internet).

4) Command or Control? Command, Training and Tactics in the British and German Armies, 1888-1918, by Martin Samuels (Frank Cass Publishers, London, 1995) This comparison of the Second Generation (sometimes still First) British Army with the Kaiserheer illustrates the differences between the Second and Third Generations.

5) The Breaking Point: Sedan and the Fall of France, 1940, by Robert Doughty (Archon Books, Hamden, CT, 1982) In the 1940 campaign, the Second and Third Generations clashed head-on, and the Second went down to defeat in six weeks (though the French had more and better tanks than the Germans). The crossing of the Meuse at Sedan by Guderian’s XIXth Panzer Corps and its subsequent turn toward the Channel was the decisive point, and this gripping book is the best on the subject. Several years ago I joined the US Army’s Quarterhorse Cav for a staff ride of XIXth Panzer Corps’ campaign through the Ardennes, and only when you see the terrain do you realize how great a risk the Germans took. You also note how, at one critical juncture after another, German junior leaders took the initiative while the French waited for orders.

6) Fighting Power: German and US Army Performance, 1939-1945, by Martin van Creveld (The Free Press, NY, 1991) Martin and I are friends, and as I have told him more than once, this is his second-most important book. It compares the Second Generation US Army and the Third Generation Wehrmacht as institutions, showing the vast differences in institutional culture between the two generations. The Second Generation is inward-focused on procedures, processes, orders and techniques; it is highly centralized; it wants obedience, not initiative (initiative and synchronization are incompatible) and it depends on imposed discipline. The Third Generation is focused outward, on the situation, the enemy and the result the situation requires; it is decentralized in its decision making; it prefers initiative to obedience and it depends on self-discipline. The US military’s greatest shame is that it today remains a Second Generation force, despite the ready availability of books like Fighting Power that clearly show the superiority of the Third Generation. Why is it so out of date? Mostly out of sheer intellectual laziness.

7) The Transformation of War by Marin van Creveld (The Free Press, NY, 1991) Though now more than twenty years old, this remains the best book on Fourth Generation war. As van Creveld says, what changes in the Fourth Generation is not how war is fought, but who fights and what they fight for. It works best to read this book after reading van Creveld’s The Rise and Decline of the State, which gives the history on which Transformation is based. Transformation is not only van Creveld’s most important book, it is also the most important book any serving officer can read. Any country whose officers have not read it is doomed to defeat, which may help explain why we are 0-4 against 4GW opponents.

For those interested in navies, I would add an eight book: The Rules of the Game by Andrew Gordon. The Royal Navy developed and institutionalized Third Generation war in the second half of the 18th century. The Rules of the Game is the story of how and why it lost it again in the 19th century.

Beyond these books, another important resource is the Fourth Generation War Field Manuals of the K.u.K. Austro-Hungarian Marine Corps, which are available here. These FMs were written by a series of seminars on 4GW which I led before my retirement, mostly made up of US Marine Corps officers.

Why were they issued by the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Marine Corps? Because we could not write official manuals for the US Marine Corps, and also because, as anyone on the traditional right should understand, it is important to keep the old empires alive, even if only as shadows.



The proper conservative response to “gay marriage” is to point out that it is an impossibility. Why? Because a union between two people of the same sex is not what the word means. The definition of marriage as a permanent (in intention) union between a man and one or more women goes back into prehistory. No one generation has the authority to change something so long established. As Chesterton wrote, “Conservatism is democracy that includes the dead.”

Advocates for “gay marriage” will reply, “What do we care about the past? Our radical redefinition of the word ‘marriage’ may not be legitimate, but we have the political and propaganda power to pull it off. What are conservatives going to do about it?”

There may be an answer to that question. The culturally Marxist elite will ensure that people are conditioned, by endless repetition, to accept “gay marriage” as real. As Paul Weyrich and I argued in our last co-authored book, The Next Conservatism, conservatives can only respond effectively by abandoning the institutions—or in this case, a word—the cultural Marxists control and setting up our own parallel institutions. We need a new word for marriage, a word the cultural Marxists cannot take over and pollute.

My suggestion is we adopt the Russian word for marriage. A Russian linguist will have to tell you what that word is; I speak German, not Russian. Conservatives will no longer “marry;” rather, we will (Russian word).

Why use a Russian word? Because Russia—the Russian state and the Russian Orthodox Church—and only Russia can define the meaning of Russian words. Since both state and church are culturally conservative, neither is likely to agree that the Russian word for marriage can mean a union between two people of the same sex. Gays here and elsewhere may of course attempt to steal the word, but Russia, I think, will say they are wrong: the word cannot mean what they are doing.

Once we have a word of our own, just let the gays, sheep, bacteria, whatever have the word “marriage”. There is no way we can take it back and strip it of its pollution; the cultural Marxists control too much of the media for that to be a realistic option. So just let it go. Culturally conservative men and women will designate their lifetime, sacred union before God with a different word. At that point, the gay lobby’s victory over “marriage” will become empty because its intended message, “We can do whatever you do,” will be nullified. Sorry, but no, you can’t.

The View From Olympus 2: Another 4GW Fracture

Image Credit: James Buck on Flickr via Creative Commons
Image Credit: James Buck on Flickr via Creative Commons

Events in Turkey and Egypt have revealed another Fourth Generation fracture line in states, an important and potentially powerful one: rural vs. urban.

In Western societies, because the rural fraction of the population is small, we do not think much about what is in fact a very old, pre-state tension line; that between city dwellers and those who live on the land. Yet in much of the world, the rural population is still a sizable portion of the whole. Rural areas can offer a better base for warfare than cities, in part because of the dispersion and in part because basics, especially food, are more readily available.

City-country tensions often combine with other 4GW fraction lines, each reinforcing the other. Rural people tend to be more conservative culturally and religiously. Urban dwellers are more likely to be globalists, i.e., secular liberals. We see this on prominent display both in Turkey and in Egypt.

In the past, urban-rural conflicts sometimes took the form of peasant revolts. These usually failed, but often terrified those in power; see Martin Luther’s denunciations of the German peasant revolt of his time. At other times, the countryside and the rural population rallied to a conservative leader who had been ousted by liberal, urban elements. The revolt in the Vendée against the French Revolutionary government of the 1790s is an example. That pattern fits the current developments in Egypt, and it suggest a lot of blood may flow.

The urban-rural fracture line, like other pre-state divisions, now finds itself up against states that have already been seriously weakened, both in their ability to function and in their legitimacy. Again, Egypt is the leading example. The Turkish state is functional, but the basis of its legitimacy since Atatürk, secularism and progress, has been repudiated by the current, Islamist government. In terms of legitimacy, that government now has one foot on the dock and one foot on the boat, not a particularly steady position.

I said in an earlier On War column that I expected the Egyptian state to survive, largely because Egypt has had strong central governments for millenia. I am now less certain about that. The rural-urban split in Egypt, which in part parallels the Islamic-secular split, is wide and deep. It could lead Egypt into the sort of civil war we see in Syria, which can destroy the state itself—as it has in Syria, which has joined Libya in the column of stateless regions (with the kiddies who make American foreign policy cheering for the forces of statelessness in both places). If the Egyptian state does disintegrate, 4GW is likely to spread through the entirety of the Arab world. Should Turkey follow—which I still find unimaginable—the consequences for the international state system would be incalculable.

Framing the Debate

Immigration is a sensitive subject in the United States to say the least. We are incessantly reminded of how we are a nation of immigrants, that multiculturalism is an inherent good, and that only economic prosperity can result from importing third-world peasants who take jobs from working Americans and drive down wages. If you are for it, that’s acceptable, but if you are against it, well, it had better be for an approved reason (See: Jason Richwine).

These days it is common knowledge that tens of millions of illegal aliens, virtually all of them Mexican, are “living in the shadows” within US borders. Every few years since president Reagan (that champion of conservatism that he was) granted amnesty to foreign invaders in 1986 the debate resurfaces on what to do with the new ones that invariably continue to arrive. A few months ago immigration talk heated up once again, starting with an analysis of the Republican presidential loss and demands for further “fairness” and “equality”. What a beautiful world it is that we see “Dreamers” and multinational corporations join hands to rid the world of these injustices!

The Democratic Party generally takes an open-borders approach, wishing to grant citizenship to all who apply, and even those who do not. Presumably they are motivated by morality and compassion. The idea here is that all immigrants are hard working people that are simply down on their luck and have the unfortunate circumstance of being born in the wrong place. They do not carry diseases, criminal backgrounds, or violent or subversive political motives. Immigrants have equal cultural values and intelligences, too. Really, they are all scientists and engineers who are just looking for a country that appreciates them.

Republicans take the closed-border approach to reach essentially the same conclusion. They oppose the current proposed “immigration reform” legislation only because there are not enough funds allocated for additional border security. They want to keep the illegal alien problem from recurring but they ultimately see immigration as a good. Cultural Marxism dictates that they must. Maybe they will even pick up some Hispanic support in future elections. Surely their corporate donors that want a giant pool of cheap labor have nothing to do with their decisions.

Conservatives and traditionalists should support actions against the immigration reform and amnesty legislation, both in the present and the future. The problem, though, is that the argument against it from the Republicans is being framed incorrectly. I do not care how high the fence is, how many new border patrol agents are hired, or how many new drones are put in the sky. I do not want millions of new third-worlders gaining the privileges of US citizenship.

If we are to believe that any human being from anywhere in the world is equal to any other and can become an authentic member of any society into which he plants himself (another topic entirely), then official policy should reflect a desire for the melting pot effect to take place. Bringing tens of millions of people from an entirely different culture out of the shadows (as well as their family members from back home) for integration into American life all at once provides almost zero opportunity for assimilation. We will see more of what we already have from America’s non-whites: enclaves of foreign cultures and the further destruction and rejection of Anglo-Saxon culture in the public square. Toss enough into the pot and it becomes a different dish entirely.

The United States is still struggling to maintain a healthy economy. Real unemployment is in the mid teens. Entitlement payouts have never been higher. How is anyone supposed to believe that the addition of 11 million people to the roles will occur without consequence, let alone be seen as a net benefit? Supposedly immigrants, especially Mexicans, are uncommonly hard working people. “They do the jobs that Americans won’t do!” Not so. The initial wave of workers take low-paying jobs because they have no skills and had absolutely nothing in their home country. As the population increases, the pool of available labor expands and wages plummet. It is now virtually impossible for a working man to provide a decent living for his family on his own.

With third-world immigrants also come third-world problems. Drug and tribal wars, violent crimes like honor killings and rape, and obscure diseases like tuberculosis and diphtheria are all commonplace among the third-world. These are the people that constitute the vast majority of the population we are taking in. Many do not even pretend to like this country, let alone assimilate. Look no further than the Tsarnaev brothers who detonated two bombs at the 2013 Boston Marathon after taking welfare payments for a couple years prior. Your hard-earned money at work.

If there is going to be a “dialogue” or “national conversation” about immigration in the US, then it needs to amount to more than Democrats telling us how we should think. There needs to be a real opposing position that considers actual consequences and leaves behind the tired narrative of America as a home for every piece of human trash that wants a paycheck. In politically correct language that would be the “tired, poor, wretched refuse” that seeks “opportunity”.

Two New Martyrs


Cultural Marxism has martyred two more innocent people, George Zimmerman and Paula Deen. Zimmerman, accused (and now acquitted) of second-degree murder in the shooting of a young black male, Trayvon Martin, was put on trial in a process that presumed he was guilty unless proven innocent. The fact that he was prosecuted at all for what evidence showed was self-defense was a political decision. The Monday, July 8 New York Times reported that “only after sharp criticism from civil rights leaders and demonstrations here (Florida) and elsewhere did the Florida governor transfer the case to a special prosecutor…”

Zimmerman’s supposed political crime that led to a special prosecutor being appointed was “profiling,” i.e. suspecting that Martin was up to no good because he was a young black male (Zimmerman was a member of a neighborhood watch for a gated community). But Zimmerman had every right to suspect a young black male of having criminal intent. Why? Because the black rate of violent crime is twelve times the white rate. Not double; not triple; not even quadruple; the black crime rate is triple times quadruple the white rate. And most violent black criminals are young males. Not only do whites try to avoid them, so do other blacks.

All law enforcement is and must be based on profiling. Otherwise, you would have to have a cop for each civilian. Given the low ratio of police officers to citizens, cops must use a process of elimination—profiling—in order to focus their attention where it is most likely to prevent a crime or apprehend a criminal. They profile on sex, on age, on dress, on what kind of car a person is driving, and on race. All are statistically valid indicators. Even New York Mayor Bloomberg recently defended such profiling, daring to point out that cops make random stops of black New Yorkers more often than white because minorities commit most of the crimes.

Why does cultural Marxism forbid racial profiling? Because blacks are its parallel to economic Marxism’s workers, which means they are by definition “good”, while whites are the cultural Marxists’ equivalent of capitalists, who are defined as “bad”. It does not matter what people from any of these groups actually do. The ideology has as its purpose “empowering” workers over capitalists (Moscow) or blacks over whites (Frankfurt School). Facts mean nothing, because cultural Marxism seeks to abolish the “reality principle” itself.


Paula Deen, whose principal crime has been to provide people with delicious food, has been exiled from the public square for admitting, in old court testimony, that she used the word “nigger”. When she did so, she was describing a black criminal who had held a gun to her head.

Common sense says that when you are describing someone who threatened to murder you in a hold-up, you can use whatever words you want. Even the f-word, which has always been considered the worst available, would be excused by most people under such circumstances. But in promoting its “transvaluation of all values” (taken from Nietzsche), cultural Marxism spreads the f-word around like confetti while making the word “nigger” a thought crime.

A bit of linguistic and historical perspective may be helpful here. “Nigger” is merely a misspelling of the Latin word for the color black, “niger”. Felis niger est: the cat is black. Objectively, calling someone a “niger” (both spellings are pronounced essentially the same) is calling them a black in Latin. Big deal. If blacks want to make an issue about correct Latin spelling, I will be with them 100%, but getting a case of the vapors over being called black in Latin instead of in English is just silly.

Historically, the word “nigger” was sometimes used negatively, sometimes not. Mark Twain’s Nigger Jim in Huckleberry Finn is presented as an admirable man. My late uncle said that when he was a boy, the local iceman was black. He introduced himself to his customers as “Nigger Joe”. Was he disparaging himself by doing so? Hardly. The kids could not have cared less; they followed his wagon on hot summer days, hoping for some chips of ice (precious before home refrigeration), the same way kids followed the wagons of white icemen.

Today, “nigger” is usually used derogatorily, by both blacks and whites, for blacks who behave badly. People who behave badly deserve to be called by derogatory words. The problem is not when Paula Deen or anyone else uses the word “nigger” for a black behaving badly, the problem is the black’s bad behavior.

Again, cultural Marxism forbids any mention of bad behavior by blacks. According to the ideology blacks by definition (as the “oppressed”) cannot behave badly. Anything they do is justified, because all whites are by definition “racists”. Even though black hatred of whites is now more common than white hatred of blacks, cultural Marxism says blacks cannot be racists.

But there is also a meta-level here. The old economic Marxism worked by combining rational argument (from false premises) and terror. Cultural Marxism seeks to combine terror—See what happened to Paula Deen? You must fear us—with psychological conditioning, a la Brave New World. Any defiance of its dictates, i.e., using the word “nigger”, threatens to disrupt the conditioning of the masses and therefore must be stopped.

The great irony in all this is that the primary victim of cultural Marxism in this country has been our urban black community. As late as the 1950s, it was a safe, decent place. In the 1950s, 80% of black shoolchildren came home to a married mother and father. Then the Marxists’ cultural revolution hit in the 1960s, and the urban black culture collapsed. White college students said “Do your own thing” and “If it feels good, do it,” then went on to get their MBAs and law degrees, get married and raise middle class families. In the ghetto, they just kept on doing it. The result is there for all to see, in a black urban culture of instant gratification that has brought endless degradation with it, as instant gratification always must. The cultural Marxists did America’s blacks more damage than Simon Legree could ever have imagined.

The Origins of Political Correctness

Back in the 1990’s, William S. Lind hosted a program on cultural conservatism that covered a broad range of topics. Here we are proud to feature the episode on Cultural ((((((((((Marxism)))))))))), or political correctness, explaining its origins, aims, and far reaching effects.

Part 1

Part 2

The View From Olympus


This begins a new series of columns on military affairs, as a follow-on to my long-running On War series (I will continue to write a military column for The American Conservative magazine as well). Since I am now retired and take my motto from Augustine (before he became St. Augustine), deificari in otio, I have decided to title the new series, “The View From Olympus.” Olympus isn’t too far from Cleveland. will be the column’s regular home, though websites that often printed On War are welcome to re-publish The View From Olympus as well.

The framework for The View From Olympus will be that of On War, namely the Four Generations of Modern War. I developed this intellectual framework in the 1980s, initially as the Three Generations; the Marines to whom I was then lecturing kept asking what the Fourth Generation would be like, so I answered their question. I first laid the whole framework out in print with some co-authors in the October 1989 Marine Corps Gazette.

The framework of the Four Generations of Modern War fits well with TraditionalRight’s focus on paradigm shifts because it chronicles four such shifts in the art of war in the modern period, which is to say roughly since 1650. Each generation represents a dialectically qualitative change in the conduct of war (not the nature of war, which is fixed and unchanging; retired Army general Jim Dubik has written an excellent paper on this important distinction). Dialectically qualitative changes are somewhat fancier versions of paradigm shifts, of the “bursting dam” variety; see Hegel for a further discussion.

First Generation war begins roughly with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 and runs through the American Civil War. Tactically, it was war of line and column, where armies moved in column and fought in line. On the whole, First Generation battlefields were battlefields of order, which in turn created a military culture of order. That culture was inward-focused on drills, rules, regulations and orders; demanded obedience, not initiative; and depended on imposed discipline. The fact that armies were recruited by sweeping the gutters and most soldiers wanted to desert reinforced the need for a culture of order. The main significance First Generation war has for us now is that state militaries came to define themselves by the culture of order and they still do today.

The Four Generations framework is based on land warfare, but it is worth noting that in the second half of the 18th century, probably beginning when Anson became First Sea Lord, the Royal Navy developed and embraced the culture we associate with Third Generation maneuver warfare. By 1800, it was outward focused on getting the result the situation required regardless of rules, fighting instructions, or order; it wanted initiative, not rote obedience, at least from ship captains on up; and at least among officers had moved slightly from imposed to self-discipline. There is a marvelous book on how and why the Royal Navy lost that culture and became inward-focused again in the 19th century, The Rules of the Game by Andrew Gordon.

The First Generation has another, meta-level characteristic that is rapidly again becoming important: it marked the assertion by the state of a monopoly on war. Previously, wars had been waged by many different kinds of entities: not only governments (governments go back into pre-history, but the state is relatively new, dating to about 1500; see Martin van Creveld’s book, The Rise and Decline of the State), but also families, clans and tribes; religions and sects; races; cities and business enterprises, legal and illegal; etc. With Westphalia, states in Europe said, “No more.” After that, non-state combatants, soldiers who did not belong to state armies, were no longer seen as legitimate and were usually hanged or shot on the spot. When state armies met non-state opponents as European power expanded world-wide, the state virtually always won. By 1900, the state system and war between states had a monopoly, at least outside the jungles of New Guinea or the Amazon. As we will see, that is no longer true.

Both the Second and Third Generations of Modern War were born in World War I. In 1914, the armies of the European Powers marched to war looking like, and often fighting like, those of 1814. The result was catastrophic for everyone, with hundreds of thousands of men killed in a few months. In the west, the overwhelming power of artillery and machine guns forced both sides into the trenches. (On the eastern front, lower troop densities allowed both tactical and operational maneuver to continue, at least in some sectors.

The Second and Third Generations were created by the French and German armies respectively. The French army built its new doctrine around a single fact: on the western front, the battlefield was dominated by indirect artillery fire. Overall, about 80% of the casualties suffered by all parties on that front in World War I were from artillery. Summarized by the French army as “the artillery conquers, the infantry occupies,” Second Generation tactics synchronized all arms in a highly choreographed “methodical battle.” Attacks were with limited objective, and defense depended more on maneuvering fires than troops. Overall, Second Generation war was a contest in mutual attrition, where victory was supposed to go to whoever could bring the most firepower to bear.

Second Generation war as developed by the French during and after World War I remains relevant to us in two ways. First, it preserved the First Generation culture of order. Second Generation war remains inward focused on orders, processes, procedures, etc.; it may be thought of as “war by formula.” It wants obedience, not initiative; synchronization and initiative are incompatible. And it remains based on imposed discipline, to the point where between the wars French officers were forbidden to publish anything that contradicted official doctrine.

The other way Second Generation war remains relevant is that the US Army and Marine Corps still fight that way, despite the Marine Corps’ official doctrine of maneuver warfare. The US armed forces absorbed Second Generation war from the French during and after World War I, then promptly forgot where it came from. We still practice it tactically, attempting to win wars by putting ever more (“precise”) firepower on ever more targets. And we still embrace a Second Generation military culture of order: centralized, inward-focused, valuing obedience over initiative and relying on imposed discipline.

Meanwhile, back in the First World War’s trenches, something very different was happening in the German army. Already imbued with a culture of outward focus and initiative thanks to the Scharnhorst reforms during the Napoleonic war, the German army solved the dilemma of the trenches with radically new tactics. Attacks no longer sought to push a line forward. Rather, small groups of men flowed like water around enemy strong points, always seeking the path of least resistance and, when they found one, drawing others after them. Attacks were with unlimited objective, seeking to collapse the enemy from the rear forward. In the defense, instead of trying to hold a line, the Germans sucked the enemy in as deeply as possible, then cut him off with counterattacks that left him encircled. These tactics demanded radical decentralization of decision making, with orders specifying only the result to be attained, not method.

During the 1930s, the new tactics of 1917-18 were married with the Panzer divisions to create the Blitzkrieg. Tanks permitted not just tactical but also operational maneuver, making fast, decisive campaigns possible once again. The new tactics and operational art, combined with a military culture that was outward focused, decentralized, prized initiative over obedience and depended more on self-discipline than imposed discipline, gave us Third Generation war, also known as maneuver warfare. When the Second Generation French army and Third Generation Wehrmacht met head-on in 1940, the Second Generation went down to defeat in six weeks—despite the fact that the French had more tanks than the Germans.

Since the mid-1970s, I have endeavored to convince the US military to move from the Second to the Third Generation, with little success. The Marine Corps did adopt Third Generation maneuver warfare as its official doctrine in the early 1990s when General Al Gray was Commandant. It published some quite good field manuals on it. But it changed nothing else, least of all its inward-focused culture of order, so what it does remains, like the US Army, almost purely Second Generation war. For a couple hundred billion dollars a year, we are buying a military museum.

Fourth Generation war represents the largest paradigm shift in the conduct of war since 1648. It reverses what the Peace of Westphalia established, the state’s monopoly on war. All over the world, state militaries designed to fight other state armed forces much like themselves instead find themselves battling non-state entities: again, as before Westphalia, families, tribes, and clans; races and religions; sects and “causes,” i.e. ideologies, which are new since Westphalia but have their parallels in pre-Westphalian heresies; business enterprises including gangs, etc. All things old have been made new again. Unlike in most of the modern age, when state armed forces fight these non-state elements, the state forces almost always lose. The US Marine Corps, the best of the American armed services, is now 0-4 (Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan).

As Martin van Creveld says, what changes in Fourth Generation war (his term is “non-trinitarian warfare,” referring to Clausewitz’s trinity of state, people, and army) is not how war is fought, but who fights and what they fight for. This is a larger change than changes in how war is fought. Van Creveld’s book The Transformation of War is by far the best on the subject.

Not only is Fourth Generation war non-trinitarian, it escapes Clausewitz’s definition of war as politics carried on by other means. Many of the objectives for which Fourth Generation warriors fight are not political (some of course are). They range from having fun and grabbing women and loot through attaining eternal salvation. Much Fourth Generation war is supply-side war, generated by the presence of large number of young men with no jobs, no money, no access to women, and no future. What do such young men naturally do? Fight.

Some commentators have mistakenly defined Fourth Generation war merely as insurgency. This reduces it to just another buzzword and obviously not a paradigm shift. Their error is not looking beyond how war is fought. Many Fourth Generation entities do employ the techniques of insurgency, but these techniques are not the origin of their strength. Their strength is mental and, above all, moral, not physical. It is a product of the causes they represent and as van Creveld has pointed out, of their very physical weakness. They represent David confronting Goliath. In the several thousand years the story of David and Goliath has been told, how many people have identified with Goliath? Over time, Fourth Generation war will affect how war is fought. It has already rendered most of the hi-tech, hyper-priced weapons in the arsenals of state armed forces irrelevant. Why do we need the F-22 Raptor? To shoot down Taliban flying carpets (Chet Richards adds, the fact that so far the F-22 has not bagged a single carpet shows we need a new radar and a new platform to carry it).

An example of 4GW changing how war is fought is the advent of the suicide bomber. Suicide attacks have been quite rare in military history. The fact that some Fourth Generation entities are able to employ them routinely show 4GW’s power at the moral level. Suicide bombers have given Fourth Generation forces their own precision-guided weapon, one at least as effective as our drones firing missiles. Against our Hellfires they pit the Heaven-fired. Which is winning?

Fourth Generation war is in its early stages, and will take at least a century to play itself out (talk of Fifth Generation war is nonsense; we cannot see that far ahead). What is at stake is the state system itself, and with it conservatives’ highest good, order. If the state system collapses, the world faces another calamitous century, like the fourteenth in Europe (see Barbara Tuchman’s book, A Distant Mirror).

This is the framework of the Four Generations of Modern War. First laid out in the 1980s, it has been justified by events, or so some observers have said. It continues to unroll in north and west Africa, in the Levant, in Mesopotamia, and the Hindu Kush. One might add, along America’s souther border and in the hearts of her cities. An American government that seeks to bring order to Afghanistan cannot maintain it 1000 yards from the US Capitol after nightfall. Were Washington open to reality, which it is not, that might tell it that something is changing. The Establishment’s attitude is best summed up by the reputed statement of the Chief of Staff of the Italian army shortly before World War II: “If you have a full plate of pasta for life and a little wine, who care about anything else?”

The New Paradigms


What do we mean by a paradigm shift? A paradigms shift is a change in the terms which define a contest. You may think of it as an alteration of the rules of the game, or a move from one battlefield to a new and very different one. Paradigm shifts are defined not merely by new answers, but by new questions.

World War One, the second catastrophe suffered by the West in the modern age (the first was the French Revolution), offers an example. In August of 1914, the Houses of Hapsburg and Romanov were mesmerized by each other. Who would win this latest round in their long contest? Inconceivably in that fateful summer, the winners would be an unimportant American republic and a fellow named Ulyanov sitting in a café in Zurich. History knows him as Lenin.

That was a paradigm shift. Its consequences were vast. As the Marxist historian Arno Mayer argues, in 1914 the United States represented the international left. All the other powers but one, France, were conservative Christian monarchies. By 1919, the United States was organizing the international right. The US had not changed; rather, the international spectrum had shifted around it. The three great monarchies of Austria, Prussia, and Russia had become socialist republics, giving conservatism a blow from which it has not recovered.

It is the view of this journal that more paradigm shifts of similar magnitude are coming. One has already occurred, without the notice it should have received from conservatives. If Western culture is to be successfully defended and restored, it is imperative that the right recognize these paradigm shifts before the left does. In any contest, a time advantage can be decisive, or so the Boyd theory informs us. (Colonel John Boyd, America’s greatest military theorist, argued that all conflicts occur in time-competitive cycles of observation, orientation, decision, and action [OODA loops]. Whoever can cycle consistently faster than his opponents builds a tremendous advantage.)

One of our purposes is to identify coming paradigm shifts early and to discuss how cultural conservatives might best respond to them. It is not possible to identify all the coming paradigms now, because many have not yet begun to emerge. However, we can identify and analyze some, along with ways conservatives might take advantage of them. We can also, in this journal, provide a periscope through which those who are watching may espy new ones. We encourage anyone who thinks he may have spotted one to submit an article or a letter to the editor.

What emerging paradigms are now visible? One has been hidden in plain sight since the mid-1960s. What is it? The adoption by virtually every Western country’s elite of cultural Marxism as the unofficial state ideology.

Cultural Marxism, commonly known as multiculturalism or Political Correctness, is the Marxism developed by the Frankfurt School (formally the Institute for Social Research), building on the work by Lukacs and Gramsci. Very different from the economic Marxism of Moscow, cultural Marxism was the basis of the New Left and the counter-culture of the 1960s. That counter-culture is now the mainstream culture in all Western countries. Its primary objectives, from Lukacs and Gramsci onward, have been and remain the destruction of the Christian religion and Western culture.

How has this created a paradigm shift? By reducing cultural conservatives from the vast majority of Americans as recently as the 1950s to an embattled and despised minority, the one minority against whom discrimination is encouraged. How conservatives mights respond to this change of paradigm, and the nature of the ideology that has brought it about, will be a recurrent theme in this journal.

We think the most effective response to cultural Marxism will usually be that recommended by Paul Weyrich in his famous open letter to the conservative movement of the 1990s. In that letter, Paul said attempts to retake existing institutions from the cultural Marxists were unlikely to be successful, rather, cultural conservatives should create their own parallel institutions as the home schoolers have done.

Creating parallel institutions is the most powerful revolutionary act. As such, it leads us to another paradigm shift now underway: an international crisis of legitimacy of the state and the rise of Fourth Generation war—war waged by non-state entities for goals that lie outside the parameters of politics.

All over the world, states are failing as their citizens transfer their primary loyalty away from the state to a wide variety of other objects: gangs, tribes and ethnic groups, religions, ideologies and “causes,” etc. These new entities wage war, and when they fight state armed forces, they usually win. This marks a paradigm shift of vast magnitude, the biggest change in war since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. The (non-Marxist) withering away of the state and the rise of Fourth Generation war will also be a frequent theme in this journal. Young conservatives may well live to face a world in which the continued existence of states, including the United States, is in serious question.

A third paradigm shift we can begin to glimpse is an end to economic prosperity in the United States and in other developed countries and an era of widening impoverishment. Because most states now claim legitimacy on the basis that they provide economic prosperity, the end of prosperity and the crisis of legitimacy of the state are likely to be intertwined.

Widening impoverishment has been the experience of much of the American middle class for some decades. The root cause is the doctrine of free trade and the resultant destruction of American manufacturing. Put simply, only making or growing things brings real prosperity; when a country ceases to make things, its middle class becomes impoverished. One of America’s proudest and most unusual achievements was the creating of a large blue-collar middle class. Up well into the 1960s, a man working on an assembly line could give his family a comfortable middle-class way of life on one income. Equivalent families in today’s America can barely meet basic needs on two incomes, with both the husband and the wife working (leaving the children to be raised by the Devil’s babysitter, video screen technologies).

This long-term decline in middle class living standards is likely to accelerate and become deeper as the United States, along with much of the rest of the world, enters into a multi-decade debt crisis. Both private and government spending has been based on increasing debt, and that is not sustainable. Representative Paul Ryan is correct: we will have a debt crisis.

Debt crises are not simply recessions. Not only do both governments and individuals have to eliminate the spending previously funded by debt, their spending must be reduced below what they earn in order to pay off the debt. An economy of which 70% is consumer spending plummets, reducing incomes further, which reduces consumption further, in a vicious cycle we now see in places such as Greece, Spain and Portugal. Those countries today are the US tomorrow.

With one difference: having our own currency, we can print money. The Federal Reserve is already doing so at an unprecedented pace. The result, inevitably, will be inflation, possibly hyperinflation. As Milton Friedman said, inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon. Inflation wipes out such savings as the middle class possesses, making everyone “equal” because everyone is equally impoverished. Despite periodic depressions, most of them short, American culture has always reflected an expectation of rising living standards. What will happen when that expectation is replaced by a reality of living standards that fall for decades? Can a government de-legitimized by widespread impoverishment endure? Can the state maintain its unity under such circumstances? These are the sorts of questions raised by paradigm shifts, and the shift from a paradigm of increasing prosperity to one of decreasing poverty is a powerful paradigm shift indeed.

A fourth paradigm shift relates to technology. The advent of seemingly magical technologies that profoundly reshape daily living, from the television and the computer to genetic engineering, have led to uncritical acceptance of whatever new technologies come along. But history cautions that every technological innovation has its downsides. We are beginning to become aware of some of these, in the form of a generation that cannot read a book or hold a conversation, genetically altered crops that our bodies react to allergically, and the replacement of the Christian religion with a variety of new paganisms as a consequence of replacing the word with the image. Expanding our understanding of the negatives as well as the positives of new technologies and discussing how conservatives might protect themselves from these negatives will be another of the paradigm shifts explored in this journal.

Not all coming paradigm shifts will be negative. A welcome one, whose first shoots are already visible, will be the replacement of the global, the vast, and the institutional with the local, the small, and the personal.

Globalism is already failing, as our economy and those of other developed countries are averaged with the economies of countries where wages are many times less. They come up, but we go down. Wall Street makes a mint because most big companies are now global, but the rest of us take an increasingly painful hit. We are beginning to figure this out.

Globalism brings more than declining incomes for most Americans and Europeans. Global plagues are already in the news, from Zebra mussels and black tiger mosquitoes to diseases that kill up to 50% of infected humans. Globalism promotes immigration, sometimes of highly skilled and wealthy people, who are welcome, but too often also of masses of poor peasants who burden the economy, debase the public square and pollute the culture of their new homelands (where they have often arrived illegally). Even as it groans under a stifling cultural Marxism, Europe is beginning to resist the immigrant plague. A cleansing of the shire may be in the offing, and a second expulsion of the Moors.

Similarly, the absorption of the small by the large is a trend that may be reversing. Size can produce one benefit, cheapness. But with that come many debilities, in product quality, treatment of employees, relations with communities and awareness of (and concern about) downsides. Conservatives have long been suspicious about big government, and big everything else as well. Too often bigness creates a steamroller that flattens the local traditions and variations conservatives prize. Now the paradigm that has favored bigness since the industrial revolution is shifting. Walmart, agribusiness, and China may be on the way out. Farmers’ markets, local farms and products, and “Made in the USA” are starting to come back. This is a paradigm shift conservatives should welcome.

With it may come what may be the most important/positive change in this list: that from the institutional to the personal. Small size is part of this: Walmart cannot be personal, but the corner grocer can be and is. As technology works to disembody communication, replace the real with the virtual, and condition Brave New World’s subjects to be compliant, a new, growing network of person-to-person relationships offers the promise of restoring reality and encouraging independent thought.

If we add these up—rebuilding upon the ruins of Globalism a traditional society where most things are local, small, and personal—we get a paradigm shift that would empower real conservatism, conservatism not as a political ideology (which real conservatism can never be: as Russell Kirk wrote, “Conservatism is the negation of ideology”) but as a way of life. The 21st century will present conservatives with many new dangers, but with some opportunities as well.

This list is merely a beginning. Again, many of the paradigm shifts that will shape 21st century America cannot yet be seen. They may include the return of such historical experiences as famine and plague, as consequences of genetic engineering. The Middle Ages discovered that when you lose 60% of your population in six weeks, as some areas did when the Black Plague arrived, everything changes.

If conservatives are to protect and restore Western culture in the 21st century, we must be the first to perceive what is coming and we must have a plan of action before it gets here. To those goals our pages are devoted.

Welcome to traditionalRIGHT!

traditionalRIGHT is a journal devoted to “the Permanent Things,” as Russell Kirk called them. But we consider them here in a new context, a context defined not by current paradigms – Republican vs. Democrat, conservative vs. liberal, legislative battles over gun rights, abortion, gay marriage and so on – but in paradigms now beginning to emerge. These new and radically different paradigms will define the 21st century. They will also determine the battlefields on which the Permanent Things, the truths embodied in traditional Western culture, must be defended, and we intend, led to victory.

traditionalRIGHT wishes to outline what is being called a New Traditionalism. We are inspired by the traditions and ways of life of our ancestors and of the greater Western world. We aim to bring traditionalist thinking and understanding of human nature into the forefront of politics and society.

Our publisher, William S. Lind, knew Dr. Kirk and was also an associate of the late Paul M. Weyrich for more than twenty years. With Dr. William Marshner of Christendom College he introduced the concept of cultural conservatism in two books published in the 1980s. He co-authored Paul Weyrich’s last book, The Next Conservatism (St. Augustine’s Press, 2009). Mr. Lind is also widely known for his writings on military theory and public transportation. He authors a regular column on military affairs for The American Conservative magazine and serves as Director of the affiliated American Conservative Center for Public Transportation.

Our founders are men in their twenties. They conceived this journal, knowing that their generation will face a very different environment from that in which American politics have been conducted since the end of World War II. Paradigm shifts are not small changes.

Hence, again, the purpose of this journal: to perceive these paradigm shifts as early as possible, and to ready the forces of traditionalism to operate and triumph within them. This is no easy task. Many of the paradigm shifts that will make 21st century America a radically different place have not yet begun to emerge.

But as another of our mentors, Colonel John Boyd, stressed, whoever can orient first and most accurately has a great advantage. If traitionalRIGHT succeeds in orienting traditionalists and defenders of the West to emerging paradigms before our culture’s enemies can do so, it will have accomplished all we hope for it.

Who dares wins.