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.

Why You Need Traditionalism


The American Traditionalist Society is being developed. Part of its mission is to evangelize modern people with the good news of the wisdom of the ages, so that they can tune in (to their sense that something is wrong), turn on (to the life-giving traditionalism) and drop out (of the liberal, modernist establishment.)

To this end, I offer the following essay, designed to catch the eye of potential recruits. Subsequent essays will develop the theme further.

Why You Need Traditionalism

“Traditional” sounds old-fashioned. It sounds like the discredited—or at least unfashionable—ways of the past. That was then; this is now. Why do I need traditionalism?

“Traditional” also sounds like bondage. It sounds like people forced to do their duty, like it or not. Forced to honor kings, priests, and other non-democratically-chosen authorities. In the modern world we’re free. Why do I need traditionalism? Because if you follow contemporary ways then you do not—and cannot—have what you need most in order to honor God and live well. Only through traditionalism can you get what you need.

So what is traditionalism? The word usually denotes a way based on a tradition, but we mean something richer and deeper. Traditionalism is a way that connects man to the true order of the world. Because man is man, and not animal, he must live within an order. And if this order deeply violates the true order of the world, as the orders of the Western nations currently do, then man cannot live well, in either his personal life or his society. In order for man to live well he needs traditionalism, for traditionalism is knowing and participating in the true order of the world.

Although the true order is God-given and therefore not changeable by man, the concrete expression of the social part of this order in the life of a people varies from group to group, from nation to nation. Each people expresses this order in its own way, and this is why although there is only one God-given order, there are many different traditions. If you are an American, then, you need American traditionalism.

Since traditionalism is thought to be a type of conservatism, our advice is diametrically opposite from contemporary thinking. Contemporary authorities say that traditionalism is to be opposed because it makes you subservient: Perhaps to a tradition you did not freely choose, or a tyrant god who doesn’t even exist, or the white people who allegedly still rule America for their benefit at the expense of everyone else.

Like every great lie, this belief contains an element of truth. Traditionalism opposes the radical freedom that is the ideal of the modern world because when man is radically free he is also lost. To live well, then, man must be under a tradition and an authority greater than himself. And traditionalism supplies this need.

To live well (like a human being rather than an animal or a demon) man needs, among other things:

  • Knowledge of the God Who is the ultimate cause of all being, truth, goodness and beauty. But contemporary thinking denies that one can know God.
  • True religion, through which man can know and have friendship with God. But contemporary thinking denies that it is even possible for a religion to be true.
  • True morality, through which man can know how to live a righteous life, and also know that he is a sinner who needs salvation through Jesus Christ. But contemporary thinking denies the reality of almost all moral truths, and it denies the principles by which any moral truth can be known with certainty.
  • Knowledge of the first principles of philosophy, through which man can understand the basic nature of the world he inhabits. But contemporary thinking denies the reality of true philosophy, claiming instead that science is the highest form of knowledge.
  • A family and nation to belong to and participate in, without which man is lost. But contemporary thinking denies that family and nation have any objective existence, or that they ought to be honored and protected.

The list could easily be extended. Anything beyond the physically tangible and the immediately obvious is denied by contemporary thinking, or at least it is said to be purely subjective. According to contemporary thinking, you can believe it if you want but it’s nothing more than your personal preference.

But observe that if it’s just your preference then it isn’t real. You could have chosen to believe or participate in the opposite of what you chose, and this opposite choice would have been equally valid. And something that could just as well have been its opposite isn’t real, for reality has definite characteristics that do not change with the whims of man.

And since, according to contemporary thinking, anything transcendent (i.e., beyond the mundane) is not real, human life is ultimately (that is, in reality) nothing but social atoms choosing arbitrarily, and we are left with the contemporary world, in which God, religion, country, morality and honor do not exist, a world in which individuals are demoralized and societies are malfunctioning. This is the horror of the modern, non-traditional world. (True, many people believe in these transcendent elements, but according to the official narrative of Modernity, these people are fooling themselves. And the overall progress of society is always toward the actualization of this official narrative, as our leaders continually smash institutionalized intolerance and promote diversity.)

How then can you reconnect with the order you need to live well? How can you escape the nightmare of the contemporary world? Know first that you cannot save yourself. You are too small. You need to discover, believe and participate in something larger than yourself, something that connects you with the realities that the contemporary world denies: God, true religion, family, nation, and so on. You need the traditionalism of your people.

Traditionalism is not just adherence to a tradition, for there must be a reason why we adhere to it. More basically, traditionalism is knowing and living in accord with what many thinkers call the order of being. Contemporary thought holds that the world is only a physical realm in which any meaning or order that transcends the physical is arbitrarily projected by man. And since this order is arbitrary, man can change it whenever he wants. But contemporary thought is mistaken. The world contains a God-given order that pre-exists man, and that he knows primarily through intuition, his faculty of knowing basic truths without a process of formal reasoning.

What are the elements of this order of being? It contains, among other things,

  • The physical world, with its scientific laws of matter and energy.
  • The biological world, with plants and animals (including man in his animal dimensions), with laws of life and death, birth and growth, male and female.
  • The social world, with its moral, psychological, political and economic laws, with individuals, families, clans, associations, nations, rulers, and governments.
  • The spiritual world with God, angels and demons, Heaven and Hell, creation and miracles, and spiritual laws.
  • The religious world, with priests and pastors, Scripture and creeds, religious acts, and laws of sin and repentance, salvation and damnation.
  • The intellectual world, with metaphysical and epistemological principles, schools of thought, disputation and proof.
  • The aesthetic world, with beauty in all its varied manifestations.

The reader will note that some of these elements appear to be man-made. Man creates social, religious and intellectual orders. Each nation creates its own unique orders. But there are proper ways to create them, within limits established by God.  Man is not free to redefine what is proper without the disastrous consequences we see all around us.

To live well you must begin to know this order and its unique expression as the traditions of your people, and you must seek to live in accordance with it. You must search for those who know this order and learn from them. You must seek out like-minded persons with whom you can share your life. And most importantly, you must seek to know God through Jesus Christ, repenting of your sins and having faith in Him.  This is the life-giving traditionalism that you need.


This essay was originally published at The Orthosphere, a Christian Traditionalist journal. We are grateful for the contribution.

Person and Bloodline

According to the Indo-Aryan tradition, a human being can and should be more than just an “individual”, a replaceable socio-physical atom with a limited existence in space and time. The concept of an “individual” relies on the lowest common denominator among human beings (breathes, has a body, exists in space and time, is Homo sapiens, has “human rights”), but the goal of an “individual” must always be to develop a personality (i.e. to become unique, to become different, more, than other individuals).

The Bloodline

The difference between the Indo-Aryan and the post-Christian view of humanity lies not only in the distinction between individual and person. The Indo-Aryans also viewed the presently living man as a link in a long chain that connected the ancestors to their descendants, both biologically speaking and in a tradition that was passed on from one generation to the next. Many bloodlines could be traced back to the gods (some royalties claimed to be descended from Odin and Zeus. A more recent incarnation of this is the theory of a “Jesus bloodline” that was spread by The Da Vinci Code, and obviously appealed to many readers).

The bloodlines were unique, and qualitatively different. They were not seen as replaceable; every time a bloodline died out, it was a sad event. Further it was important to keep the bloodline “pure”, i.e. to not deprave it by having children with people of a lower caste, bad character, etc. This can partially explain the custom of arranged marriages, the bloodline was seen as too important to be adventured by the whims of young people.

The concept of honor also falls under this. It was something a person to a great extent shared with his bloodline and his kindred. This in turn explains the phenomenon of honor killings, where one physically tries to remove a “source of dishonor” (something which I’m certainly not trying to defend, as it goes against my fundamentally anarchic views. To disown an offspring is one thing, but to kill your own children goes against normal instincts and is most common in cultures centered around shame). The worship of ancestors is also easily explained when one relates it to the concept of bloodlines.

What’s happened in modern times is that the bloodlines have been forgotten. Historyless individualism has made us see ourselves as short-lived atoms, with no history and no future. The result is that mere urges, comfort and trends decide if, and with who, a person continues his bloodline. Countless bloodlines have as a result of this died out, sometimes with an aborted fetus as the only trace left of it. Countless bloodlines have also been depraved, where pure human garbage has been allowed to infiltrate them (“I know he beats both me and the kids mom, but I’m so in loooove”). The genetical insight that our ancestors expressed in a mythical form with the concept of bloodlines has, paradoxically enough, been completely forgotten in an age where human biology as a science has in fact reached new heights.

And in the cases where bloodlines are being continued more or less unharmed, it is today a purely biological issue. There are no traditions being passed on, no stories of the ancestors, no rites, no ideals.


This article has been republished from Archeofuturist, a Radical Traditionalist blog from a European perspective.

The View From Olympus 11: How Raids Can Work

Last weekend’s raids in Libya and Somalia by US special operations forces raise a question that has long bedeviled similar raids in Afghanistan. Can they work strategically? That is to say, can they bring us closer to a favorable outcome in our war with the Taliban and al Qaeda?

The answer, at present, is almost certainly no, at least so far as the Taliban is concerned and probably not against al Qaeda. The reason is that operational art, the key linkage between the tactic of raiding and the desired strategic result, is missing. As a result, we have defaulted into the usual approach of a Second Generation military, a war of attrition. The Taliban has too much depth in personnel to be vulnerable to a war of attrition. Al Qaeda, as a much smaller organization, has less depth, but so far it has had enough to make up its losses, including that of Osama bin Laden. We are left playing what the troops call a game of whack-a-mole.

Is there a way we might inject operational art into raiding and thereby make it strategically meaningful? I think there is.

The answer must begin with recognizing that a “spec op” is only a real special operation if it works on the operational level of war. Otherwise, we are misusing the term “special operations” for what are merely the tactical actions of military SWAT teams.

That in turn requires understanding what “operational art” means. Operational art is that link between tactics and strategy. Its practitioner decides what to do tactically, and how to use tactical events (including sometimes defeats) to strike as directly as possible at an enemy’s strategic center of gravity, a “hinge” in the enemy’s force that, if struck, can cause him to collapse. Inherent in operational art is economy of force: ideally, you only fight tactically when doing so is operationally meaningful, i.e., it holds the potential to be strategically decisive (of course, the enemy sometimes makes you fight when you would rather not). Determining why, where, and when to fight tactically on a strategic basis is the essence of operational art.

A campaign or war of attrition is the nullification of operational art. It seeks strategic victory merely by fighting tactically wherever and whenever possible. In contrast, operational art lies at the heart of Third Generation maneuver warfare.

An excellent example of a true special operation undertaken by a Third Generation military is the abduction of Admiral Horthy, the regent of Hungary, by German special operations forces (they coined the term: Sonderverbände) in World War II. Germany had received correct intelligence that Admiral Horthy was about to change sides from the Axis to the Allies. This was a strategic threat to Germany. Not only would a number of Hungarian divisions turn from allies into enemies, Hungary’s Balaton oilfields were one of Germany’s last petroleum supplies.

The German answer was a special operation, led by the famous commando Otto Skorzeny, that kidnapped Admiral Horthy. It involved almost no tactical fighting, but it was decisive. Hungary remained a German ally.

If we apply operational art to raids against al Qaeda (and to a lesser extent the Taliban, who are rapidly becoming yesterday’s problem as we leave Afghanistan), what does it suggest we do? Again, mere attrition of random al Qaeda leaders is not likely to bring a strategic decision. However, more sophisticated targeting of our raids could.

Like all militaries (including our own), al Qaeda has a few competent leaders and lots of less competent or incompetent ones. Putting incompetent or non-competent leaders into key al Qaeda positions could well be strategically decisive because it could lead al Qaeda to destroy itself. Therefore, our raids would become true special operations if we carefully targeted al Qaeda’s competent leaders while intentionally not targeting the incompetent or non-competent ones. Our operational goal would be to create vacancies that would allow the incompetent leaders to move steadily upward in the organization.

Obviously, this requires very good intelligence to know who in al Qaeda is competent and who is not. But we would at least be asking the intel boys an operational question, not merely a tactical one, i.e., where is someone, anyone, we can go after.

Will it work? No one can ever know a result beforehand in war. But operational art at least opens the door to strategic success, whereas its absence leaves us playing whack-a-mole. We have not defeated a Fourth Generation opponent through attrition yet, and there are no signs we are about to do so. Who thinks, wins.