“I remember promising myself that, should I live, I would rise up to meet this new challenge face to face and prove myself worthy of life…”~Terry Fox
It’s fashionable in our droll world so infatuated with egalitarianism to smirk at the aristocratic ideals of duty, honor and self-control. But every few generations a person is born who smashes our odd combination of hubris and cynicism. A person whom, it seems to me, is specially crafted by God to show the world just how much we can bear and still move forward, still remain good, and how much we can still care about other people. When we see these people, we feel ashamed for our own weakness, our own bitterness, our complaints about the trifles we face.
Terry Fox was such a person.
It is also fashionable in our egalitarian world to believe that we deserve everything merely because we breathe air. Being alive proves our value, and yet life, our society cannot be expected to require something from us. No, Terry Fox did not initiate a scientific breakthrough, he did not lead a mass movement that changed society and he was never interviewed by Oprah Winfrey. He was diagnosed with bone cancer at 18 years old. Eventually, doctors had to remove his right leg. Terry Fox, in an effort to raise money for cancer research, decided he would run from eastern Canada to ewestern Canada, a marathon every day for over 140 days, only resting 4 days in that period. He made it 3339 miles on one human leg before stopping, the cancer having crawled into his lungs by that time. Speaking with his mother afterwards, he said to her: “Mom, I gave it everything I had.” The Terry Fox Foundation has now raised over $500 million for cancer research.
I think we should pause and ask ourselves: Are we giving it all we have? Are we honest with ourselves? Am I even worthy of this life? The excuses can only go so far, and they do virtually nothing to better the world or our immediate situation.
In ending let’s look at a poem written by William Ernest Henley, a man confined to a wheelchair. His poem, Invictus, expresses the same spirit as did Terry Fox and St Paul: I have run the good race…..
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
Recently a friend showed me an article which stated that Norway in 2013 deported over 5000 people, an increase of 31% when compared to 2012, as a way to fight crime in the country. The article goes on to state:
Nigerian citizens topped the list of those expelled for committing crimes, with 232 citizens expelled as a punishment in 2013, followed by Afghan citizens with 136 expelled as a punishment, and 76 Moroccans expelled as a punishment.
It doesn’t take a genius to see the commonality here, but for the multi-culturalists among us, here’s a hint: These countries are all almost entirely Muslim. My friend then asked a poignant question: If these deportations work in lowering crime, is the universe racist?
We just may want to consider, that no matter how open minded we like to consider ourselves, no matter how great we think democracy, when your own beliefs and practices either enable or guarantees your own destruction for something no one this side of Iran’s Ali Khamenei thinks is good, we may want to consider our core beliefs.
In my relatively short Army career, I have seen more toxic leaders than in all my other jobs put together. The problem has now reached a catastrophic level, with a new report, conducted by the US Army, stating that as many as 20% of all leaders in the Army could be considered toxic. It is tearing the Army apart. This report goes on to state that the majority of soldier suicide involve a toxic leader which made life, a possibly already troubled life, virtually intolerable for the soldier. A former Army officer who now works for the New York Times says he thinks 20% is a low number, and I very much agree. Enlisted military jobs were listed as the most stressful jobs of 2013. Part of the stress is the leadership, not just the Taliban.
I never knew what a toxic leader was before I joined the Army. I had some bad bosses, but I don’t think I would have classified any of them, but perhaps one, as toxic. But in the Army, it has been the rare occasion that I have not worked in fairly close proximity to someone that possesses one or several of the Army’s listed traits of toxic leaders. I’ve scoured by brain to think of why it could be so bad compared to everywhere else.
First, let me say that I was skeptical that things were any different in the Army than they were decades ago before the Army’s suicide problem and before Toxic Leader became such a popular term. But several things have led me to believe that something has changed, and for the worse (following my thoughts on our nation in general I suppose). First, the suicide numbers are striking. It is more than statistically significant when the rate of people killing themselves doubles within a ten year period and shows little sign of dropping to the levels of seen before the problem arose. Army suicide rates are comparable to the suicide rates among males in prison. I am my Battalion’s suicide prevention officer, so I have a professional interest in this. I also have an interest because I have felt the burden of toxic leaders in the Army, and I can say that it effected me in ways that I did not think possible. The military used to have lower rates of suicide than the civilian world. One would expect this in a tight-knit organization in which everyone has a well-paying job, educational incentives, and health care. Also consider that the average soldier has fewer mental illnesses, more education and is less likely to be a criminal than the average US civilian. The Army’s response to suicide has been predictably clumsy and bureaucratic. It added several more blocks of training on how to identify soldiers who may be at risk for suicide and this of course entailed more paperwork, online training and seminars. Almost all of which only addressed the symptoms and not the cause of a very serious problem. It could be argued that this type of action adds to the despondency problem in the Army, by adding dehumanizing bureaucracy in the mix, something which Max Weber termed, The Iron Cage. What soldiers really need is very tight units which serve similar roles to families. People join gangs not so they can rob stores and shoot people, but to have connection with humans. I know this sounds stupidly romantic, but it’s easy to see and feel the effects of the disintegration of social connections.
Another thing that convinced me things changed is talking to people that used to be in the military before our modern wars. When they read about current issues and how things are done, or hear my stories, they shake their heads. They tell me it was never like this. I real forums online, too, in which high ranking retired NCOs (E8 or E9) say they got out because of the changes they say, an oppressive environment that slowly drained their desire to participate. Many of them state that this trend began 5-10 years ago, which seems to be in line with the suicide trend.
Thirdly, is my own experience. In my entire life as a professional, I have never met a higher rate of narcissistic personalities than in the US Army’s officer and NCO Corp. It’s now come to light that the narcissistic personality trait is at the core of toxic leadership. This is perfectly in line with my observations in the Army and also my assessment of where our society is headed. The Army is a great microcosm for almost any society, as the values held most dear and the traits most endemic reveal themselves explicitly in the military. Studies show and my own personal experience indicates that people in college and those that are not far removed from college have very elitist attitudes and think they’re better than others around them and in past generations. These are the folks that make up the officer corps. And as officers, they are taught by the Army itself that they are better than non-officers. I see this attitude every day. The article I link to shows the definition of narcissism:
“an inﬂated sense of self-importance and an extreme preoccupation with themselves
All negative and positive traits are magnified in the military, especially during war. Transpose our world of selfies, metrosexual manicures, hourly Twitter updates on the current state of one’s hair, breakfast, pants or fecal matter, add the current focus on efficiency, bureaucracy and hyper-rationality and then throw in a college degree and rank, and we get the witch’s brew we call a toxic leader.
There are so many toxic leaders in the Army, I would dare call it a culture. I’m not sure what percentage would need to be toxic to be defined as a culture, but if we analyze what a culture is, we find that it’s really peer pressure in action. Peer pressure gets a bad rep. It’s the way people learn their boundaries within a society. In the Army, toxic leaders with higher rank will have a grievous effect far beyond their own immediate actions, because not only do they make many of their subordinated miserable, but some subordinated will copy their leadership style. The toxic leader is leading by example and everyone should fully expect that his toxicity will be seen by juniors as the way the Army works.
One defense against this could be philosophy. There should be schools for NCOs and officers that teaches the basic foundation of Western ethics and morality. Why not begin with Aristotle? Another issue that is probably contributing to the military’s problems, in the ever-growing bureaucracy. The Army is a huge bureaucracy. One of the biggest in the world. According to Max Weber, bureaucracy is the defining edifice of modern Western civilization. Bureaucracy is what maximizes productivity, it focuses on efficiency and makes perfection its aim. Bureaucracy is inherently dehumanizing. In the modern Western military, combine uber-bureaucracy with the inherent utilitarian aspects of fighting wars, and it seems we may have a system that drains humans at emotional levels. I think this is why many officers do not have the emotional intelligence required to properly lead people. In the current environment, emotional intelligence is simply not exercised, so it never develops. I believe that my time as a police officer developed my emotional intelligence to a higher degree than would have been possible if I started out in the Army. While there was significant bureaucracy as a city cop, much of the job required me to deal with a wide range of human emotions and situations. It made me realize that no matter how much we prize efficiency, human beings are not robots. When humans are placed in systems that ignore their humanity, they become despondent. This is essentially what Dilbert shows us.
I myself have felt the sting of bureaucracy and how it perpetuates the negative aspects of narcissistic leaders. The drive for perfection in order to look good in front of the boss trumps all else. One word on a PowerPoint slide that is not agreeable to these types of leaders results in the assessment that the product is a disaster. Font size and type become incredibly important, to the point where people are berated for Calibri instead of Arial. The content of the slide is secondary.
Steve Denning of Forbes magazine, writes:
Are the people who lead these 20th Century bureaucracies incompetent? When it comes to C-suite teams who don’t perceive that the world has changed and who try to cope with the new demands of the marketplace by pressing the bureaucracy to run harder, the answer is yes. They are incompetent leaders for the 21st Century. They don’t understand what it takes to succeed in their jobs. Comprehensive studies, such as Deloitte’s Shift Indexshow that they are running their organizations faster and faster into the ground.
And through their incompetence, pursuing bureaucratic management instead of radical management, these leaders are causing massive damage to the economy on a daily basis and to the lives of people who depend on them: Why Amazon Can’t Make A Kindle In The USA.
Denning goes on to write:
What’s striking about the list is that these relatively high level people are imprisoned in hierarchical bureaucracies. They see little point in what they are doing. The organizations they work for don’t know where they are going, and as a result, neither do these people.
The even sadder part of the story is that the organizations they work for are going down the tubes. Deloitte’s Center for the Edge studies show that the life expectancy of a firm in the Fortune 500 has declined from around 75 years half a century ago to less than 15 years and is heading towards 5 years. The pointlessness that these people see in their jobs is an accurate reflection of the deteriorating condition of the firms they work for. When those doing the work are dispirited, it is inevitable that customers too will be frustrated and that the firm will not prosper.
So, even at a purely utilitarian level, these organizations are failing? Why? Because they are made up of people and the people are not satisfied.
This is what is happening in the Army. And I see no evidence at all that the Army will fix it. The focus on efficiency instead of creativity, and the enraging habit of adding processes instead of taking them away is ruining the military. Most of our enemies have no bureaucratic systems, or they are much, much smaller than our own, yet they have basically defeated us, achieving their strategic aims while we founder and fib that we are winning.
I am a creative person. Since a boy, I have enjoyed stories and the fantastic. Instead of maximizing this, the Army usually crushes this instinct. I could write multiple blog posts about the bureaucratic problems in the Army, and how they drain people’s souls. Moreover, many of these processes are downright dumb.
The Army must radically change at multiple levels if the deleterious trends so evident are to reverse. But it won’t. As usual, I take the line: “We are doomed”. The feedback loops that keep civilizations more or less on an upward trend, are not present in the Army. When a leader is toxic, he is the Emperor with no clothes. No one will say anything and soldiers can’t quit to find another job, not for years, when their contract expires. Even when the problems of bureaucracy are identified, the reaction of government is to add more bureaucracy, when the first question ought to be: Why do we need to do any of this? How much do we really gain vs the time put into the process?
In the end, we’ll all pay the price. We’ve already paid a large one.
A friend of mine sent me an article which describes in lurid detail the proceedings of campus rape tribunals. You can read the article here.
My friend quipped that he at one time believed it was impossible to ruin the fun time of the college experience, but now he believes it’s been done. Other people in the past have told me they missed college. Of course, those people are my age, and thus attended higher learning institutions before the advent of Orwellian kangaroo courts. The Romans had a better legal system back in 400 BC. Really, look it up.
I think the article does an excellent job in explaining what a travesty this sort of thing is, the Faustian world that the Progressives have constructed. I keep waiting to wake up inside the Matrix, because folks, I ate the red pill. And since the article does such a great job in deconstructing this one aspect of the liberal monolith, I’m going to stick to what this type of thing means to me, and how it affects us all.
In essence, this sort of perversion of justice is exactly what I’m talking about when I say that we as a culture are getting worse. I’ve considered that maybe it’s just me growing older, thinking everything was once better, that every activity we performed back in the day was somehow more noble, that we were stronger.
I’ve considered that, and arrived at the conclusion that in fact, we were stronger, more noble, and that many if not all things were better. Even our technological advances are overrated. About the only thing I have now that I didn’t have in 1980 is a cell phone and a computer, and from the studies I’ve seen, those two things are prone to make us more unhappy. Per usual, I shamelessly blame it all on the liberals. But we have it so good, some will tell me. Yes, we do. But it’s getting worse than it was a few decades ago in very measurable ways. The Canadian Club ad below pretty much says all I have to say:
See, I’m not an ethno-nationalist or white supremacist, tribalist, a hater of women or a prude, as some may suspect from my political leanings. I like freedom. I like justice. And precisely because I like freedom and justice, I’m suspicious of democracy. At the very least I see democracy as having all the same flaws as most of the other forms of government, only now the power is split up into a multitude of factions all wanting a piece of me and you. Nope, I’ve spit the democracy kool-aid back in the tankard. The very young experiment that is Western Democracy is crumbling and fast. Let’s not forget that Tyranny is not a form of government, it a disease that can occur in all government’s forms. It’s democracy that enabled this sort of thing, using the all powerful Managerial State to take almost all the fun out of living. But for a few differences I’d accept the label of libertarian. The closest titles I can find are paleoconservative and neoreactionary. I like neoreactionary because I hope it brings to mind Conan the barbarian or Kull the conqueror to the people that think that Jersey Shore was a good television show. Sweaty, veins surging with enough testosterone to make Alex Rodriguez’ PED supplier jealous, and carrying a giant sword dripping with the blood of my enemies. I want to go back, just like Eddie Money crooned. I want to go back because I used to be free. Democracy works when it’s filled with well-behaved individuals held in line by internal and universal values. Democracy doesn’t work when you trump up some charges in order to fulfill your political/idealogical Mangina fantasies and ruin people’s lives, like Auburn and Vassar do. And it’s all legal because because Jefferson’s all-knowing, holy people (read: mob) will it.
I still won’t go so far as to call myself a monarchist, yet. But dear readers, what did King George III ever do that was worse than what we put up with from our government and Managerial State now? Don’t get me wrong, I’m with the revolutionary Americans. You know what they wanted? Not ultimate liberty and anarchy. They wanted to be treated like Englishmen. They wanted to be treated the same as the people back in Great Britain were treated, no better, no worse. You can look that up too. They didn’t think all kings were evil. They thought tyranny was evil and I’m inclined to agree.
This is part 1 of an undecidedly long series on where the fun times went, and what we can do to get them back. Next up: When I started noticing the big, bad changes.
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.~Hebrews 13:5-6
One issue I am striving to overcome since returning from Afghanistan, is my persistent displeasure with fellow Americans who don’t seem to realize how good they have it, with how much tough work went in to making this country, with the willing sacrifices that were made, and mostly just how outrageously easy the day to day life of an American really is. The thoughts of the cellulite-ridden mall shoppers standing in line complaining about this or that is a national embarrassment.
The ungrateful person is not concerned about others, he does not complain about injustice so much as their own momentary discomfort, without a second thought about their relative situation. The ungrateful person manifests many of the deadly sins, mostly sloth and gluttony and envy. Since the ungrateful person’s appetites can never be sated, work is seen as evil, since it gets the person no closer to satisfying his personal needs ( an impossibility), this results in sloth. The ungrateful person, paradoxically, never stops trying to satisfy himself, thus gluttony often results, and not only in the overeating of food, but in the hoarding of useless trinkets, clothes, etc, firmly entrenching in him severe materialism. Finally, despite his laziness and his hoarding, he always wishes to have what his neighbor has, and in fact he wishes that his neighbor would lose some of what he has.
Ultimately the ungrateful society is primarily comprised of people without any real skills. They expect all of their needs, including their personal safety, to come from outside sources. As such, they make increasingly poor decisions for themselves. Our state and society has become the great enabler of the ungrateful person, encouraging a plague of horrible personal decisions among its citizens.
An ungrateful society loses its sense of perspective, its ability to tell good from bad, evil from holy. Soon, the democratic state which supports an ungrateful people finds itself the victim of its own populism. It throws money about, just as did the Roman emperors who gained the throne via assassination; they baited Rome’s soldiers and citizenry with exorbitant amounts of money, merely to mollify them. The result backfired utterly, as a people so eligible for purchase will be the first to sink the dagger in the back of the next ruler. Discipline disintegrated. These emperors would have done better for themselves had they offered the money, then had crucified anyone who took it.
An ungrateful society finds itself unable to protect itself at a personal or national level. The weight of self-defense is placed on emergency services. The same skills that are necessary for the individual farmers of history, be they from ancient Greece, Rome or even the original settles of America translate well to that of soldier. Thus, these people were extraordinary fighters, hardy, resilient, cunning, grateful with little. In those societies, before they began to crumble and while they still maintained the visage of nobility and strength, even the aristocrats were able to live ascetically when needed. Make no mistake, George Washington was an aristocrat. Yet he drove himself as he did his troops at Valley Forge. Eventually ungrateful people are overwhelmed by hardier peoples.
Now, I understand that “ungrateful” can be relative, that circumstances can always become so uncomfortable that anyone would complain. Still, when we look at our wealth and the trivial nature of our complaints, can anyone truly say that most are justified? Where are the days when a beer, a cup of coffee, a good book, the beach, were enough? It’s not to say that we should not strive to be better, but our gluttony is destroying us. Clearly, as a people, we have asked far more from our nation than we have put in to it. History’s largest debt supports my thesis. When I hear people complain about the weather, even though it is not hurting any plans, even though they don’t have a job that requires them to be out in the weather, when I hear people complain about perfectly good food, about how walking is hard, breathing is hard, thinking is hard….well I complain about their incessant complaining. Life just isn’t that difficult for me.
Ungrateful people are outraged by nature itself. Someone, the government most likely, should do something to make it all ok. The government should stop hurricanes, make it warmer, make it colder, stop hunger, stop war. The government. If the power goes out, it’s outrage against the government. We’ve become so weak that everything is an outrage. Am I hallucinating, or was it against the rules as a child to even complain about the food on the table in the 1970s? What were the options? Go hungry or eat. Are we doing our children, the world a favor by scrambling for a food that tastes better? As parents are we so stupid as to not know what is actually good for our 3 year old?
I stand by my words, that America past was better than America present. That our people were better. That ungratefulness is the root of our problems, our debt, our gluttony, our lack of important skill, our welfare system, the root of feminism, socialism, liberalism.
In parting I’ll leave you with a tract from Livy’s, The Early History of Rome. Ask yourself, does it portend our ending?
I invite the reader’s attention to the much more serious consideration of the kind of lives our ancestors lived, of who were the men, and what the means both in politics and war by which Rome’s power was first acquired and subsequently expanded; I would then have him trace the process of our moral decline, to watch, first, the sinking of the foundations of morality as the old teaching was allowed to lapse, the the rapidly increasing disintegration, then the final collapse of the whole edifice, and the dark dawning of our modern day when we can neither endure our vices nor face the remedies needed to cure them. …no country has ever been greater or purer than ours or richer in good citizens and noble deeds; none has been free for so many generations from the vices of avarice and luxury; nowhere have thrift and plain living been for so long held in such esteem. Indeed, poverty, with us, went hand in hand with contentment. Of late years wealth has made us greedy, and self-indulgence has brought us, though every sensual excess, to be, if I may so put it, in love with death both individual and collective.
To make the individual uncomfortable, that is my task.~ Frederick Nietzsche
Someone posted my recent blog post, The Feminization of Everything, on Reddit yesterday, and some other people posted a link to my article on other blogs, resulting in the single biggest day of blog traffic I’ve had on any blog I’ve hosted.
I’m not sure if it was done as a joke, as a prod, or as a genuine contribution to a string, but the person posted my article under the “feminism” subreddit. Of course, this subreddit is largely populated by feminists and my article is receiving some interesting comments. Actually, it hasn’t received one positive comment, though some frightened individuals appreciate my article, as it’s received twice as many “like’ votes as dislikes. It is #3 in the “hot” tab under feminism, and #1 under the “controversial” tab.
I have never posted to Reddit, never used it to increase blog traffic. When I post links to my articles, it is usually because I want honest input from people I trust or know; I’m willing to see others’ views, and I want to know the weaknesses of my own arguments. Many times, blogging is a very inferior way of expressing one’s views on issues, as they tend to be written spur-of-the-moment. A book would be better. I don’t handle my blog in a professional manner, though perhaps I should.
One comment on Reddit stated that my article seemed fascist. Another called it a “tantrum” and “junk”. One more implored others not to read the article at all, apparently afraid some may find some good in it. I’m not sure if I should be honored or dismayed by this person’s opinion. I lean towards being honored. The last 5 years of my life have provided ample opportunity for self-examination, a crucible of honesty with myself. I realize my weaknesses, my strengths. I have something to say, I see problems in the world, and every so often a person comes along who can’t help but obsess about the tragedy of it all. Such is my melancholic personality.
Are my views fascist? I’ve asked the same question myself. And I’m willing to concede they are at some level. But it’s almost meaningless to me. The only reason it’s not completely meaningless is because I know I’ve made the right people uncomfortable. Change for the better rarely occurs without pain and discomfort. The term fascism is as meaningless to me as the word “drug”. What kind of drug, aspirin or Methamphetamine? A single word cannot probe the intricacies of reality.
I regard the modern world as incredibly unauthentic, a poseur propped us by the rich daddies of yesteryear who did most of the work. Acting as children, we play make believe in the mansion built by our forefathers. The mansion is crumbling for lack of maintenance.
I won’t spend time writing about the misuse and overuse of the term, “fascist.” The criticisms of the lazy usage of the word have become as cliche’ as the word itself. I will say however, that if someone wishes to insult me with a commonly misused and misunderstood word, “reactionary” would be more appropriate. I would not deny the label.
Surprisingly, I found the definition that best suited me, not in Websters, but in the online Urban Dictionary:
One who supports Reaction in opposition to the general progressive Western zeitgeist, often accompanied by a sense that the expansion of democratic politcs has made life in general much worse either in absolute terms, or measured by what should have been achievable with modern science, reason, and technology; usually believes race is a real genetic construct and therefore not surprised at disparate average outcomes across large population groups; often believes human evolution has in part or in toto shaped human nature, which therefore cannot easily, or at all, be changed very much by social engineering and/or conditioning; usually believes heirarchy is imprinted upon mankind by nature and/or God, and that heirarchy is not only not necessarily evil, but desirable and even inevitable and ought not be torn down for any but the most grave reasons; tends to support tradition either as revealed by his religion and/or as successful adaptive memetic developments which usually solve deep and complex problems in human societies; anti-revolutionary; anti-socialist; anti-communist; anti-whig; anti-democratic; anti-globalist; skeptical; (once a term of derision, most reactionaries of late do happily so self-identify)Tom suddenly realized he couldn’t find a single Republican at the convention who didn’t hail FDR anything less than a great hero. He remembered knowing conservatives in his youth who opposed both FDR and WWII. But where were they now? They had disappeared, but their thoughts and words had not. Tom hadn’t changed his mind about much in the past 25 years, but he suddenly realized he was a Reactionary.
Every good citizen makes his country’s honor his own, and cherishes it not only as precious but as sacred. He is willing to risk his life in its defense and its conscious that he gains protection while he gives it. But you must remember, my fellow-citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing.