Every soldier sacrifices their individual needs and desires for the benefit of the unit. This is neither good nor bad, it simply is. However, this is not how a liberal society operates. Rather than the citizen’s purpose being to live one’s life to benefit society, society operates to benefit its citizens. The reason that the military operates on the reverse principle is because it has a clear goal and purpose, whereas society at large does not. Individual organisations may be run in a similar manner to the military, if they have clarity and urgency of purpose, but for the most part, civilian organisations function for the benefit of their individual members as much as for the organisation itself.
The collectivist mindset, that is to say, the willingness to sacrifice one’s individuality for the benefit of the group, is a martial mindset. There is nothing wrong with having such a mindset, in fact it is necessary for the military to operate efficiently. However, what I thoroughly resent is the permeation of the collectivist mindset throughout liberal societies, which are supposed to preserve individual rights and freedoms. Unlike the military, society at large HAS NO GOAL that it is working towards. Individuals may have goals, organisations may have goals, but society cannot – humans don’t have a damn hive mind.
First, let me explain why I resent the collectivist mindset so much. I know who I am (sort of) and I know what I want from life (again, sort of). Like all humans, I have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I also plan to exercise those rights, not throw them away by joining an organisation that makes all of my decisions for me. Collectivists do not believe such rights even exist, instead they believe that rights are “material things you should have,” which defies the very definition of a right, and I’ll explain why in another article. Collectivists believe that you should sacrifice whatever is necessary for the benefit of society, possibly including your own life, to which I say “you know what, fine, you do you, and if you get killed, good riddance, you narcissistic busybody.”
Second, the militaristic vision that collectivists have for civil society is laughably hypocritical, considering how many collectivists, particularly socialists and progressives (which are basically the same, but hey, I like being inclusive, and self-described progressives usually hate being called “socialist”) claim to be anti-war and anti-military. The truth is, collectivists actually love the military, but not all the fun parts about it – you know, the cool toys, fun exercises, and pretty uniforms that make every young boy want to join. What collectivists love about the military is the bureaucratic organisation and the brainwashing. In fact, as modern warfare becomes smaller in scale, with soldiers being both more specialised and more versatile thanks to technology, it would seem that modern militaries are actually becoming more individualistic in terms of their approach to personnel, abandoning the model of the “soldier,” and reverting to the much older “warrior” culture in some respects. Oddly enough, this is something that self-described progressives who have an interest in the military (including the top brass in both the US and UK) seem to have the biggest problem with, rather than more important things, such as replacing the aging, outdated weapon systems that make western militaries look like a joke compared to Israel or Russia, or cutting ties with defense contractors who keep supplying the same over-priced trash, just in shiny new packaging or with the latest generation of bells and whistles (looking at YOU, General Dynamics). Look, the purpose of the military is to kill people who threaten your country, not set a cultural example by going woke. But then, since “get woke, go broke” is a thing, I guess the only way to push the woke agenda is to get a taxpayer-funded organisation to adopt it. Perhaps now you understand why I say “taxation is theft.”
Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I need to explain how the modern military mindset arose in the first place, and why it is permanently bound to collectivist ideology, specifically socialism. The modern military, as we know it, is largely based on the Roman legions. For a time, however, there were no Roman legions, and for a bit over half the Middle Ages, wars were fought on a much smaller scale in a manner consistent with a feudal society. While we, in the modern day, think in terms of nations when it comes to land, for the first half of the Middle Ages, no such concept existed. The law of the land was the law of whoever owned the land. Possession is nine tenths of the law, and the ability to maintain possession is the tenth. In order to protect his land, a lord would retain several men-at-arms to repel trespassers. Now, in the modern day, trespassers aren’t typically a problem for rural landowners, but in Medieval England, those trespassers might be dangerous vikings, so trespassing was taken a bit more seriously back then. Anyway, the lord’s fighting force was typically quite small, maybe as few as ten men. A wealthier lord may have many more, and that alone would grant him some authority over the lesser lords within his reach. A king had claim to all the lands within his reach, but the lords maintained their property with little interference as long as they promised to contribute their men-at-arms if the king needed to raise an army to fight off a large invasion. Feudalism is actually a good bit more complicated than this, but the bottom line is that a king did not hold absolute power, instead he relied on his vassals to carry out his will. In England, specifically, the king derived his power from the consent of the barons. The arrangement was largely the same all over Europe, at least until 1230.
In 1230, the Teutonic Order launched the Prussian Crusade with the goal of converting the Old Prussians to Christianity. After their success, the Teutonic knights settled in eastern Prussia, which is now northern Poland. They launched quite a few crusades in the Baltic region, and are probably best known for their disastrous defeat in the Battle on the Ice in 1242, during a crusade against the Republic of Novgorod (for the record, it was actually an autonomous branch of the Teutonic Order called the Livonian Order, formed in 1237 and operating in what is now Latvia). Anyway, the point is that the nation of Prussia started out as a crusader state. Unlike the crusader states in the Levant, however, this one persisted, as the others were utterly steamrolled by the Ottoman Turks in 1453. Prussia was, effectively, the first military dictatorship. The earliest Prussian nobles were all former Teutonic knights, and they ruled lands that they conquered for the church, rather than receiving those lands from any king. They were warriors first, rulers second, unlike most nobles, who were the opposite. Prussia became a duchy in 1525 and a kingdom in 1701, the whole time slowly taking over lands of the Holy Roman Empire, which accelerated under Frederick the Great, who became king in 1740. In 1805, the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved after Napoleon Bonaparte’s victory at the Battle of Austerlitz, and replaced with the Confederation of the Rhine. Outside of Austria and Switzerland, the German-speaking lands remained divided and in a state of constant reorganisation until their unification in 1871 – under Prussian leadership, of course. By the way, this was in the middle of the Franco-Prussian war. Germany, as a unified nation, was born during the middle of a war against the French.
It is important to note that Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor of Prussia, later Germany, was a champion of public welfare when he wasn’t helping the Kaiser win wars. Under his administration, the German Empire had a rather extensive welfare state, almost comparable to what is seen today in many European countries, but completely revolutionary by the standards of 1880. Plenty of other countries had been enacting labour reforms, especially when it came to coal mining. A particularly interesting tale is that of Mines and Collieries Act of 1842 in England, which barred women and children under 13 from working underground – not just because of safety concerns, but also because of Victorian prudishness. Deep in the mine shafts, it was so hot that hurriers – a mining occupation made obsolete by the introduction of pit ponies – tended to work topless, and sometimes completely naked, even the women. Anyway, the point of this little tangent has to do with the rise of socialism, and why such an idea took hold in some places, not others. In societies that are already highly regimented, those in which people simply do as they are told, problems do not get solved except by those whose job it is to solve problems, and this requires a very high authority to identify a problem and decree that it must be solved. In a more liberal society, any individual can take the initiative to solve problems that they may have no obligation to do anything about, just as Anthony Ashley Cooper did with the conditions in British coal mines. In terms of liberal initiative, at that time, it was highest in the United States, which is why labour unions formed to protect the rights of workers, and Britain was not far behind. Germany, however, had the least amount of such initiative, and so it took a blathering busybody named Karl Marx to write down what he thought all of society needed to be like in order to solve the plight of the proletariat. Perhaps Bismarck took some cues from Marx when he created the prototypical German welfare state, perhaps not, but in either case, such reforms were the reason that no “workers’ revolution” took place. Likewise, the success of labour unions and individual activists in the UK and the US are probably also significant contributing factors regarding why no socialist revolution has taken place in these countries.
If all this serious history is making your eyes glaze over, don’t worry, I’ve made my point. By now, the connection between militarism and socialism should be evident. No doubt there will be people who insist that there doesn’t need to be a war in order to get people to join together and work toward a common goal, and that’s true, to an extent. The issue I take is the sickening hubris of the activists who insist that everyone must drop what they’re doing and work toward their goal, else they’re part of the problem, perhaps even “working with the enemy.” These people are a bunch of moral busybodies, and we don’t need them – they need us, whether they like it or not, so just ignore them, and don’t let the constant brow-beating get to you. Remember, the purpose of collectivism is to take advantage of strength in numbers to wage war – and when there is no-one left to fight outside of the collective, the members of that collective will inevitably turn their guns on each other. There is a reason that the left eats itself, and socialist countries always purge themselves. Oh, sure, “this time will be different,” but it’s a lie, and people need to stop falling for it.
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