Sunday, September 28, 2014

"Never Trust Anyone Who Hasn’t Been Punched in the Face"

I was intrigued to read an article with this title in Taki's Magazine.  Here's an excerpt.

The cause of civilizational decline is dirt-simple: lack of contact with objective reality. The great banker-journalist (and founder of the original National Review) Walter Bagehot said it well almost 150 years ago:

History is strewn with the wrecks of nations which have gained a little progressiveness at the cost of a great deal of hard manliness, and have thus prepared themselves for destruction as soon as the movements of the world gave a chance for it.

Every great civilization reaches a point of prosperity where it is possible to live your entire life as a pacifist without any serious consequences. Many civilizations have come to the state of devolution represented by modern Berkeley folkways, from wife-swapping to vegetarianism. These ideas don’t come from a hardscrabble existence in contact with nature’s elemental forces; they are the inevitable consequence of being an effete urban twit removed from meaningful contact with reality. The over-civilized will try to portray their decadence as something “highly evolved” and worthy of emulation because it can only exist in the hothouse of highly civilized urban centers, much like influenza epidemics. Somehow these twittering blockheads missed out on what the word “evolution” means. Evolution involves brutal and often violent natural selection, and these people have not been exposed to brutal evolutionary forces any more than a typical urban poodle.

. . .

Men who have fought know how difficult it is to stand against the crowd and that civilization is fragile and important. A man who has experienced violence knows that, at its core, civilization is an agreement between men to behave well. That agreement can be broken at any moment; it’s part of manhood to be ready when it is. Men who have been in fights know about something that is rarely spoken of without snickering these days: honor. Men who have been in fights know that, on some level, words are just words: At some point, words must be backed up by deeds.

. . .

Modern “civilized” males don’t get in fistfights. They don’t play violent sports. They play video games and, at best, watch TV sports. Modern males are physical and emotional weaklings. The ideal male isn’t John Wayne or James Bond or Jimmy Stewart anymore. It’s some crying tit that goes to a therapist, a sort of agreeable lesbian with a dick who calls the police (whom he hates in theory) when there is trouble.

There's more at the link.

I'm not sure that I altogether agree with the author.  My own life experience has shown me that one doesn't have to be a rootin' tootin' fist-fightin' man to be strong.  Examples:

  • The missionary priest in Africa who faced down a mob of armed guerillas intent on committing murder, rape and robbery upon his flock. He shamed them by standing in the middle of the road in his priestly robes, calling the ones he knew by name, reminding them of their naughtiness as little children in his Catechism classes, and asking them whether they really wanted to harm their younger brothers and sisters.  They decided they didn't, and slunk off with their metaphorical tails between their legs.
  • Two sisters who were gang-raped while trying to help the victims of violence in an African township. They returned to the same township as soon as they had recovered from their injuries. When the locals couldn't believe that they'd be so foolish as to risk the same treatment again, they said simply that God had commanded them to forgive those who persecuted them;  so they had done so, and would not report them to the police, but would continue to help those who needed them.  This so shamed the thugs who'd raped them that they had to leave town.  They didn't dare show their faces there again.
  • Courage takes many forms.  Consider the courage shown by Sabra and Erik in the birth and death of their latest child, about which I wrote on Saturday.  If that's not courage of a very high order indeed, I don't know what is . . .

On the other hand, I do agree with the author that 'civilizational decline', as he puts it, tends to be associated with a 'wussification' of that civilization.  Conscription was the first sign of this;  there were not enough volunteers to defend a nation, so its citizens had to be coerced.  Later, that developed into the much smaller volunteer armies we see today. They are no longer representative of the vast majority of their fellow citizens, many of whom would rather flee across the border than face up to military service.  As Robert Heinlein famously put it in his 'Notebooks of Lazarus Long':

No state has an inherent right to survive through conscript troops and, in the long run, no state ever has. Roman matrons used to say to their sons: “Come back with your shield, or on it.” Later on this custom declined. So did Rome.

I've noticed the difference in my own friends and acquaintances.  Those who've willingly put their lives on the line for their countries, or to defend their loved ones in dangerous situations, have a different way of looking at the world than those who haven't.  That's not to condemn the latter at all, you understand.  It's just that once one's had to face up to the reality of 'kill or be killed', to quote the old aphorism, it changes you.  You're never the same person again.

What do you think, readers?  What counter-arguments would you offer, if any?  Read the whole article, then let us know in Comments.



dave said...

I wonder--and I mean this in all respect--what would the priest have done if the thugs hadn't backed down?

Civil resistance is effective insofar as the perpetrators are sufficiently civilized as to be ashamed of themselves. When they're not, quiet civility is nothing more than voluntary acquiescence to victimhood.

So, I wonder, what would the priest have done? Would he have raised his hands, or his fists?

Inconsiderate Bastard said...

When a society develops to the point at which it is generating a sufficiently large surplus of affluence it can tolerate a quantity of mindless, non-productive twits. The greater that surplus, and the longer it persists, the larger the supply of twits.

Eventually, however, the twits reach critical mass, at which point the burden of generating the affluence surplus weighs heavily upon those charged with generating it, requiring the participation of the twits in affluence generation.

The twits, unfortunately, are mentally, socially and physically unable to successfully contribute to generation of the affluence surplus because, at foundation, their constitution is one of consumption, not generation.

Affluence generation is hard work, frequently dirty work, sometimes dangerous work, as it involves prolonged direct and intimate contact with the unpleasantness of Reality, for which twits are inherently unsuited.

A few twits may adapt to Reality, but the overwhelming majority will not, for they have been bred for Reality avoidance. Their departure from the society will be quite angst-ridden, and consequently, rather noisy.

I doubt we'll miss them when they're gone.

Stuart Garfath. Sydney, Australia said...

Interesting indeed, and sadly, pretty much hits the nail on the head.
The description of 'twits' remind me exactly of the Éloi'.

Anonymous said...

I agree. This generation of citizens haven't had their own "tempering by fire". I know some will point to 9-11 as their Pearl Harbor; but there wasn't a wholesale "sign me up to fight" outcome from that tragedy like there was in WW2.
Some days I wish that Y2K bug had been real....can you imagine how many kids would be present in reality instead of caught up in their electronic toys?

Sunnybrook Farm said...

A lot of this has been on my mind but this guy put it in an understandable form. Sad that he is happening and can't be reversed unless something probably horrible happens to turn things around.

Mike said...

When Plutarch said "ἢ τὰν ἢ ἐπὶ τᾶς" the Roman mothers said "It's all Greek to me."

Point being that the saying is usually attributed to Spartan mothers.

Anonymous said...

... I suppose "violent sports" is better than no reality-grounding at all, but that category (as it's nowadays understood) also includes a lot of things that work more on rules-lawyering than actualy physical prowess, and therefore reinforce the social-construct victim-rewarding scheme instead of a reality check.

Also, I wouldn't quite agree with the generalized statement on the moral character of women. It's just, "western" society has been isolating women from reality a lot more than men, for a long time. This does not apply to all of them. (*My* grandmothers served in the air defense during WWII and my mother-in-law, as a little girl, threw snowballs at the Nazis on the Russian front.)

Old NFO said...

When one faces an 'enemy' and the potential repercussions include death, one understands the reality of responsibility for one's actions. The anonymity of sitting behind a keyboard and slandering/maligning someone with no potential for repercussions is the definition of 'twit'... I don't agree with ALL of the points, but most are on the money.

Bob said...

Heinlein linked human survival with patriotism, which he defined as "survival at the national level." It was part of the masterful speech he gave at his alma mater, the US Naval Academy: The Pragmatics of Patriotism. (This speech can be found in the Heinlein collection Expanded Universe, which should be on every American's bookshelf).

Rev. Paul said...

"It's just that once one's had to face up to the reality of 'kill or be killed', to quote the old aphorism, it changes you. You're never the same person again."

That pretty much says it all, right there. First time I returned home on leave from active duty, I could see it. All the males I'd known in school were still boys, and I no longer had anything in common with them. Still don't.

og said...

I understand your objection, but the problem with what you say-about the missionaries, for specific example- is that that is not bravery, its faith. A great faith. Do you often see faith that strong? I dont, anymore. I know it exists, and i know people who have it, but i bet i could interview everyone in Chicago and be hard pressed to find two people

Quentin said...

Mike has beaten me to the Spartan / shield comment but I'd like to point out that conscription is nothing new. It was often a 'choice' for Georgian criminals, and was not feudalism built on it? Round up the serfs and march them off to war. Remember too that there was compulsory longbow practice in England.

Anonymous said...

Every society needs artists and academics to grow. The problem occurs when they outnumber those who do the work.


Rolf said...

What Old NFO said. I think it not so much the physical exchange of blows, but the putting yourself on the line, being in serious physical danger, and having the adrenaline pumping knowing this could be it. It brings reality into focus like few other things can. I've been in uniform, but never went to war. I've carried a gun for self defense, but never had to shoot. But I've had a few close calls (bears and bikers come rapidly to mind) that almost went that way (800 pounds of brown bear is NOT what you want sniffing the nylon wall of your two-man pup tent at 2 AM!)
Things like that give a perspective that someone who only lives by man-made rules rather than natural consequences and physical laws just don't grok. They may not be bad people per se, just... clueless.

Anonymous said...

For the folks that want to but can' my extra effort to them. For the scum that could but won't, I have some extra effort left over for when they decide I'm not giving them enough. Then they'll find out I have more than they want, and they still haven't enough to match against it. Parasites die, but we look after the sick and the lame. Sat Cong.