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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Equality: a review

Henry Dampier reviews Equality: The Impossible Quest by Martin van Creveld:
Throughout history, ‘equality’ has tended to mean different things, and it usually only pertained to certain situations or within certain groups. The most powerful argument that he makes is towards the end of the book, in which he points out that equality is an essential concept in military life, but that it isn’t generally sustainable outside that context. Members of a military unit of similar ranks must be somewhat equal — else the army loses coherence. It can’t hold a formation in reality, or be conceived of in a useful way by officers, if there is no attempt to make those men more equal.

van Creveld: Without equality, cohesion is inconceivable. Cohesion, the ability to stick together and stay together through thick and thin, is the most important quality any military formation must have. Without it such a formation is but a loose gathering of men, incapable of coordinated action and easily scattered, and of little or no military use. In all well-organized armies at all times and places, the first step towards cohesion has always been to put everyone on an equal basis. Often the process starts when all new recruits are given the same haircut. Beards may have to be taken off, moustaches trimmed, piercings and jewelry discarded.

This is the proper understanding of equality: equality of rank within a hierarchy. It has a limited conceptual and practical utility that becomes wasted when thinkers apply the concept beyond its carrying capacity, so to speak.
I thought this was a perceptive review. The important thing to remember when reading the book is that van Creveld is a scholar, not an ideologue or a polemicist. While he doesn't hide his personal opinions, he also doesn't place any particular weight on them in comparison with the historical facts and concepts that he delves into and describes.

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28 Comments:

Blogger Thordaddy March 26, 2015 3:30 PM  

And yet...

The "equality" that spills forth from the mouths' of the radical liberationists OF TODAY means anti-white Supremacy. Period.

And... When it's all said and done...

Even the most realiest real of race realist is an anti-white Supremacist who believes in the only "true universal equality," i.e., the redundant phenomenon.

Blogger Thordaddy March 26, 2015 3:37 PM  

And let's not kid ourselves as to what the US military represents to the average white male recruit. This "equality" that puts all one level is total BS. Identity politics is undoubted. Pavlonian servitude unquestioned. But this does ultimately serve to maximize the autonomy of the collective as a whole.

Anonymous Stilicho March 26, 2015 3:38 PM  

This is the equality of peers. It has limited application in limited circumstances. Note that one of the first things done by military organizations is the expulsion of those who aren't capable of becoming part of the peer group. This also explains why the addition of women to military groups as legally presumptive peers of their male counterparts is inherently destructive of unit cohesion.

Blogger Vox March 26, 2015 3:39 PM  

Thordaddy, while I appreciate you keeping your monomania to topical posts, you need to stop saying the same thing every time. Once you bore me by becoming entirely predictable, I'm going to start deleting your comments.

Seriously, if you keep saying the same thing every time, you won't be saying anything at all here. Please keep that in mind. Don't argue with me, there is nothing about which to argue. Just be advised.

Blogger Vox March 26, 2015 3:41 PM  

This also explains why the addition of women to military groups as legally presumptive peers of their male counterparts is inherently destructive of unit cohesion.

See, now that is an intelligent point that actually involves both understanding and analysis.

Blogger S1AL March 26, 2015 3:52 PM  

Vox, are you sure that Thordaddy isn't a robot that's barely passing the Turing Test?


Actually on topic, does anyone have an explanation for why guys seem to go to polar extremes when they leave the military, either keeping the haircut/routine/order from their service time or growing all manner of facial hair and generally being disorganized in both practice and appearance?

Blogger Ephrem Antony Gray March 26, 2015 4:28 PM  

s1al

this is because a lot of guys who go into the military do so because they need structure imposed. They either get stuck in it (to their benefit) or once the structure is relaxed, lose it entirely. I doubt this is the case with all military men, but at least among those whom I have known there was a tendency to view boys who had problems with self-structuring their lives as being those who 'should probably join the military'. If there's any truth to that - if it's any more than velleity, it might complete the circle on the first part of this comment.

Blogger Cataline Sergius March 26, 2015 4:28 PM  

Actually on topic, does anyone have an explanation for why guys seem to go to polar extremes when they leave the military, either keeping the haircut/routine/order from their service time or growing all manner of facial hair and generally being disorganized in both practice and appearance?

It's practical hair cut when you are bald. Shut up about it.

OpenID luagha March 26, 2015 4:32 PM  

"a lot of guys who go into the military do so because they need structure imposed"

Drew Carey specifically credits his time in the Marines as teaching him the structure he needed to succeed in life.

Blogger S1AL March 26, 2015 4:37 PM  

"It's practical hair cut when you are bald. Shut up about it."

Heck, it's a practical haircut when you're *not* bald. I've been buzzing mine since I was 12... saves a lot of money, too.

---
"They either get stuck in it (to their benefit) or once the structure is relaxed, lose it entirely."

That makes sense. Also matches up with most of the guys I know, especially the ones who go to college after.

Anonymous Strange Aeons March 26, 2015 4:50 PM  

S1AL - as a person who works with military veterans for a living and has observed this phenomenon myself, perhaps I may weigh in on this. To draw upon AG analogy, its probably not too dissimilar from the way the hormonal crucible of high school either reinforces gamma behavior in a young boy or inspires him to metamorph into a more alpha person, a vets experience in the army may forge and refine a sense of discipline, of which his appearance may reflect. By way of contrast, the ones who develop shaggy beards, bean bag chair physiques, smoke heavily while on oxygen and whose motorized chairs are often dirtier than your average quadrunner, often have more rebellious mindsets, got out as soon as possible, hated the experience, and feel that life owes them much.
Obviously this is not an all-encompassing assessment, as there is a degree of crossover. Some merely like the look. One patient I recently met was inspired to work with the homeless, and purposely cultivated a shaggy appearance so that they would better identify with him - follicular psychology, if you will.

Blogger Thordaddy March 26, 2015 4:53 PM  

Vox...

You're kind of like the new NFL where the Blackwood brothers couldn't play.

Blogger Cataline Sergius March 26, 2015 4:53 PM  

@Ephrem Antony Gray

It doesn't work that way. You are going off some very popular myths.

Very few kids join the military because they are trying to straighten out their lives. The reason is, simple, screwed up kids don't think that far ahead.

If a kid in uniform tells you the "the judge made me join," feel free to call him liar because he is. That hasn't happened since, 1980. In fact if a kid has legal paper work that says anything like, "released for the convenience of government." He's dead to MEPS.

The purpose of equality in the military isn't to bring the dregs up to a low minimum standard. It is not to unfuck the unfuckable.

It is to harness some very driven type A personalities. And break them to harness. You can't keep yourself alive on a modern battlefield but the guy next to you can. Provided you are a completely reflexive team.

Not an unthinking team, a reflexive one. There is a gigantic difference.


Blogger Thordaddy March 26, 2015 5:02 PM  

Is "equalty" the term that the military uses and is its definition predominate over the zeitgeist's definition of "equality" and is there a dime's worth of difference between US military, Uncle Beast and the zeitgeist?

Blogger Rabbi B March 26, 2015 5:09 PM  

"Very few kids join the military because they are trying to straighten out their lives."

Paying for college and the GI bill was the mantra I remember.

I remember coming home from school one day to have my dad walk me down to the army recruiter's office and sign me up for Basic training for summer 'vacation' right after finishing my junior year of high school. Never saw it coming. He served, so I guess he thought I should have the experience as well. As it turns out, it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

The entire experience was life-changing. I went from a skinny, insecure, shy kid to a very self-confident, focused and not as skinny kid in only 8 weeks. I remember my dad commenting a few weeks after I got home about what an arrogant prick I had become. I smiled and took it as a compliment at the time.

As for the haircut: Practical - no muss, no fuss. And, I thank G-d I am Jewish - yarmulkes for baldness.

Anonymous Scintan March 26, 2015 6:25 PM  

I look at equality in a very similar manner to which I look at fairness:

Both are impossible to fully achieve. Neither is truly definable because of all the underlying variables, and each can only be achieved in a localized manner, and then only when enough underlying variables are adjusted for that the base words in question start to lose some of their meaning or import.

Anonymous Androsynth March 26, 2015 7:06 PM  

And yet, despite equality being impossible to achieve, nearly the entire political left looks at 'Harrison Bergeron' not as a cautionary tale, but as an instruction manual.

Anonymous REG March 26, 2015 7:14 PM  

Even in the military equality has its limits. Tallest go to the front ranks, short to the rear. This is a rifleman, this one mans the radio, that one the BAR, this one the mortar unit. Then more specialization into units where equality again comes into play. Some are better than others at different things. Everything has to be fluid, even equality. When I finished my service, I resumed life as I had left it, only with a bit more nit picking, professional attitude, same for most of the former military I know. The ones that have become rigid or goofballs are rare, just more noticeable as far as I can tell.

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus March 26, 2015 7:30 PM  

There is an ideal of "equality" crossing ranks that the military accepts in theory but not in practice, that is equality before military justice. In reality, higher ranks flout the laws with soft consequences, while lower ranks are readily crushed.

The standards that currently apply are far from being the best that could apply. The solidarity of current military forces is far below the best possible.

A Roman Emperor who is indistinguishable from the rest of his soldiers except for a purple cloak has more felt right to demand from them all that he does than a "democratic" general who has colonels on their knees in his plane pressing his shirts.

The theory that military "equality" meaningfully applies only horizontally, to those of the same ranks, does not point to a solution.

Anonymous PhillipGeorge(c)2015 March 26, 2015 7:33 PM  

Armies are corporations, corporations contract everyone to participate in some identity politics.
That said the question becomes: Is it true? Implicit is absolute truth.
The vagaries of fuzzy logic words such as liberty/ equality/ justice allow for abuse by the disingenuous and obfuscators and duplicitous. It becomes a tool in vacuous rhetoric.
Stoney silence, blank expressions or exasperation unbounded when one simply asks "exactly what do you mean?"
Given we are all both subjects and objects of absolute truth, if we aren't all perfectly right we are all equally wrong. This is the 'equality' before God, the Law and every corporation. Is that what you meant to say?

Given Jesus is the Word, subject and object obligations are unavoidable. Natural philosophy; intrinsic to linguistics.

Blogger Thordaddy March 26, 2015 7:48 PM  

Per the metaphysics of the enemy, mandating a finite playing field rendering zero-sum "solutions," "equality" is the psychological leveler to each individual mind. "Equality" is the tool weilded by each individual to literally LEVEL his playing field and maximize his autonomy. So "equality" is equal to "racist" in that they are the paralysis-inducing tool of the radical liberal. But ultimately there is the anti-Liberal... Worthy of total annihilation. The madness that is the radical liberal mind is driven by the exemplar of this anti-Liberalism. The radical liberal seeks the total annihilation of the anti-Liberal and he uses "equality" in his appeal for mob vengeance.

Anonymous BigGaySteve March 26, 2015 8:00 PM  

Paying for college because you are too pale to get a free ride scholarship for being able to spell your name & count to 10 while holding something in your hand is why a lot of white guys join the military.

"Tallest go to the front ranks, short to the rear"

The army has the tallest march in the back ranks and you get out of parade duty if you are too tall.

The army dept of nursing will move non Asian minority military "nurses" who failed the state boards 3 times to another state for extra tries. Despite the fact a 20 yo woman can pass a 2 mile run test with a time that would fail a 50yo man they have special dept of nursing PT tests where they fudge the numbers so nurses can be promoted. Some nurses actually thought they cut their 2mile run time by over 16 min without trying.

Anonymous REG March 26, 2015 10:22 PM  

"The army has the tallest march in the back ranks and you get out of parade duty if you are too tall." I was in the navy and many, many years ago, so probably different between services. Thanks for pointing that out. I use different branches in my stories and like to get the small differences correct.

Anonymous roo_ster March 26, 2015 11:02 PM  

S1AL wrote:
"Actually on topic, does anyone have an explanation for why guys seem to go to polar extremes when they leave the military, either keeping the haircut/routine/order from their service time or growing all manner of facial hair and generally being disorganized in both practice and appearance?"

I tried to grow regular hair for a year after getting out. Hated it. After a year I gave it up and went high & tight until I could no longer pull off the "high" part. Now it is just a crew cut.

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus March 26, 2015 11:12 PM  

Kept the short hair, never looked back at the 80's power mullet.

Also kept the modicum of discipline

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus March 26, 2015 11:17 PM  

I distinctly remember the opposite in marching, with the exception of the squad leaders and the guidon in Basic, the tallest were in the front of the formation and to the right. I can still hear the command: "if you are taller than the person in front of you, tap them on the shoulder and move forward.

Anonymous Stg58 / Animal Mother March 26, 2015 11:28 PM  

Thordaddy,

Shut the fuck up.

Anonymous Luke March 27, 2015 12:07 PM  

Related:

Related:

Handtyped from “Women in the Military” by Brian Mitchell (1998):

"p. 57-8: “The most common complaint heard from male cadets and midshipmen was that integration had lowered the academies’ physical standards. Physically, the women simply could not keep up. The dropout rate on morning runs during West Point’s “Beast Barracks” was 23 percent for women and less than 3 percent for men. In the seventh week of training, 26.3 percent of female cadets reported for physical “reconditioning” instead of the morning run, compared to 5.6 percent of men. Women reported for sick call an average of 6.8 times per female cadet, compared to the male average of 1.7 times. They suffered more than ten times as many stress fractures as men. Attrition during the first summer was 16 percent for women, 9.7 percent for men. Even after a year of regular physical training, West Point women in the first integrated class suffered five times as many injuries as men during field training. The following year, the injury rate for women in field training was fourteen times the rate for men.

p. 141-2: “Women’s physical advantages are that they are less susceptible to altitude sickness and, normally, have a greater tolerance of cold temperatures due to their extra body fat. But by all other measures, men have enormous advantages physically. The average female Army recruit is 4.8 inches shorter, 31.7 pounds lighter, has 37.4 fewer pounds of muscle, and 5.7 more pounds of fat than the average male recruit. She has only 55 percent of the upper-body strength and 72 percent of the lower-body strength of the average male. She is also at a significant disadvantage when performing aerobic activities such as marching with heavy loads and working in the heat, since fat mass is inversely related to aerobic capacity and heat tolerance. Her lighter frame, moreover, makes her more likely to suffer injuries due to physical exertion. An Army study of 124 men and 186 women done in 1988 found that women are more than twice as likely to suffer leg injuries and nearly five times as likely to suffer fractures as men.

Tests of men and women entering the West Point class of 1980 found that, on average, the upper-body strength of women was 56 percent the strength of men, their leg strength 80 percent, and their gripping strength 69 percent. Even when height was kept constant, women possessed only 80 percent of the overall strength of men. After eight weeks of intensive training, male plebes demonstrated 32 percent more power in the lower body and peformed 48 percent more work at the leg press than female plebes. At the bench press, the men demonstrated 270 percent more power and performed an extraordinary 473 percent more work than the women.”

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