Saturday, December 19, 2009

Support Our Troops?

A phrase one hears quite frequently is, "Support Our Troops", and we seldom take the time to examine this statement to see what a strange statement it in fact is. It's a statement made in support of a particular profession, and yet how often do we hear cries of, for example, "Support Our Teachers"? "Support Our Bakers"? "Support Our Plumbers"? And so forth. One seldom hears that. Now the response may be, "The troops are brave. The troops have a dangerous job." Ok, so dangerous professions requiring courage should be supported, right? But you never hear about rallies to "Support Our Miners", and yet when it comes right down to it, in terms of supporting the lifestyle that we actually live, people who are in the mines have a far closer connection to our everyday lives than troops have, at least for the last one hundred years. Mining is dangerous, dangerous work, but it is vital to continuing the kinds of lifestyles that most of us have chosen to live. It's dangerous, it's grueling, and it does take bravery, but I never hear anything about "Support Our Miners". (Perhaps we should have more such rallies!)

We can admire anyone who does a good job, who is working hard, and who works hard with courage doing something difficult or dangerous, and whose heart and dedication is in the right place, but let us not forget that those qualities can apply to one's enemies as well! One's enemies may very well be dedicated, be willing to take on danger, be hard-working. Now, to be explicit, I'm not positioning people in the military as our enemies. That's not my point. The point is that those qualities, in and of themselves, are not enough for us to give support.

The thing about support is, when you say "support", you're uttering an expression of solidarity. It's an expression of "I am behind you." In order to experience solidarity with someone else, you have to, to some degree, be agreeing with the values behind what they're doing. But if someone is engaged in something, however brave, however hard working, however willing they are to endure difficulty and danger, which you fundamentally disagree with, what is the level of support that one is supposed to give such people?

Is everything the military does laudable simply because the military is doing it? Any action, no matter how legal or illegal, ethical or unethical, advisable or foolish, automatically ought to win approval simply because people in uniform are doing it? That's obviously completely illogical on its face.

Of course, in any organization in a hierarchical society such as our own, you have the people on top who make the decisions, and you have the rank-and-file. It is possible to be in support of rank-and-file without necessarily supporting the decisions of management, as it were, and we know that politicians in our country, who are the ones sending the soldiers to fight, are often less than honorable (and that may be a generous way of putting it). So it would seem to me that I would support our troops by supporting the rank-and-file's ability to make their own decisions about who they will fight and who they will not fight!

But that liberty is not recognized by the United States military. It's not set up to function in that way. The United States military is not a traditional Germanic militia, which would consist of interconnected, autonomous units that on their own would able to vote on whether they found a particular campaign worthwhile. I mean, what kind of job is it where you're not allowed to go on strike?

Thus, it seems to me that supporting our troops, in the sense of supporting the rank-and-file, would mean critiquing management policies that deprive them of the traditional liberties of a militia-system, penalize and criminalize them for autonomous decision-making, and a direct critique of management policies which place them in harm's way for absolutely good of any value to us as citizens. In fact, isn't it dishonoring the troops to send troops somewhere in harm's way for no reason at all?

I mean, I hate to burst people's bubble, but the military is not a sacred institution. It's not a priesthood. You don't get an automatic stamp of approval simply because you were willing to join an imperial army! People need to ask, are the soldiers defending the homeland from invasions? Are they defending the homeland from elements that would try to overthrow our freedoms within the country? Are they defending family and home and sacred groves? Are they lined up outside the national parks and national forests to keep corporations from coming and looting our national forests and resources? If they're doing any of these things, then, yes, they are engaged in honorable tasks absolutely compatible with ancient Germanic values, and therefore earn our support and solidarity. But if they're engaged in imperialist adventures, invading other people's countries with the purpose of subjugating them, interfering in their internal, sovereign affairs, killing people who have never done them any harm, then I'm sorry, I am not required in any way, shape, or manner to support those actions. I will support our troops by supporting their intelligence, their autonomy, and their critical thinking, and support institutional measures that would make it so they can act on that critical thinking without landing in the brig.

We can all admire a sense of discipline. We can all admire a sense of honor. We can all admire a sense of courage, a willingness to brave danger and difficulty. We can all admire endurance that gets through difficult times. We can also all admire and appreciate the fact that however just or unjust the engagement, that the war-zone is a completely different reality than the reality that the rest of us civilians have to live, and recognize the difficulty and even the trauma that the soldiers have to go through, and to extend compassion and our humanity towards them.

What I am objecting to is people who are trying to wrap a cult of militarist supremacy in the traditional religious symbols of the Germanic tribal peoples. There is a place for the honorable warrior in the old traditions. A place, not the supreme place, not the only place, and when anyone tries to assert such a supremacy, I am going to put them in their place, because they do not get to displace the other important values and important places and important archetypal energies that need to be there. And I am not going to stand in solidarity with people who are trying to turn killing and slaughter into some kind of sacred act, which it is not.

If you're fighting for something worthwhile, something that actually has heart, then, yes, the mythology of our ancestors lends you support in that regard. It's good to feel that God's valkyries are on your side, supporting you in battle, that you have Tyr's battle-wisdom at your fingertips, but people who mistake Loki for Odin, and think that Odin is going to support any strife anywhere in the world for whatever reason, whether or not it has honor or heart, whether it supports real values or whether it supports Gullveig and her greed, whether it supports the devouring monster of the Wolf, I'm sorry, there's a word for that. It's called "delusional". I am not going to stand in solidarity with people who are delusional, and call it a religion we have in common. You're free to do whatever you want with religious symbols, even to take them to a delusional place, but I am free to differentiate myself from that, and to make it clear that I do not stand in solidarity with those usages.

Now I also want to clarify that when one finds a battle with heart, about something that really matters --- when one is defending one's liberties, and I mean that in a real sense, not the prostitution of those values hyperextended into areas where they don't apply at all but they sound good and so we fight for those whored-out principles when really we are fighting for something else -- when you find a battle that has heart, then what you are doing is you are facing the harshness of the world, and you're making a difference for something that matters. For something that matters! Honorable warriors should be the ones confronting the people for whom their only spiritual principle is life is harshness, who are going out and spreading mayhem and strife, and who wish to consume the world with that mayhem and strife. And some of the warriors are doing that, and those warriors who are doing that have my support. I recognize honorable men and women when I see them, but I also recognize that an imperial military, which is what a standing army is, does not have the traditional characteristics of federated comitati, of autonomous militias associated together, who have taken a vow to come together regardless when the homeland itself is in danger, but when it comes to other ventures, each comitatus has autonomy to decide whether it will join. In other words, an imperial military is not binding the Wolf --- it's binding the honor of the soldier! If I honor the honor of that soldier, I cannot sit back and say nothing about a structure that is completely untraditional and that is binding the up the honor of good men, and not allowing them to show forth their honor.

We can have respectable debates about which engagements are honorable and worthwhile, and which are not, but even doing so, we have already switched the terrain from automatic support of military ventures to a selective support. I don't want my brothers and sisters in arms being sent off to worthless battles, and I would hope that everyone would feel that way! If you honor the heart of the warrior, you don't want your warriors being sent off to worthless battles where they are going to be sacrificed to values that have no meaning to us! (Not to mention those whom they in turn are going to be sacrificing, and for what?) And you're going to warp the heart of the warriors if you do that, because every warrior has to believe, unless they are a heartless mercenary, that they are doing something worthwhile, so if there isn't something worthwhile, they're going to find a way to invent it. They're going to warp reality around it. It's called "cognitive dissonance". It's been well-studied. But then the warrior is going to be out of attunement with reality. That's a horrible rift to put into anyone.

People fighting the Revolutionary War or people fighting Hitler didn't need to have that kind of ambivalence or conflict. They knew they were fighting for some real values. They knew they weren't just cleaning up the mess of some espionage blowback, or defending heroin rings, or consolidating geopolitical strategy for multinational corporations.

War is always a grave decision. It involves life and death. It therefore automatically involves the Gods, and one had better make sure that one is fighting for the values that the Gods stand for. But this is quite a different matter than saying that war itself is sacred. A more perverted statement could not be made. Warfare involves the Gods the same way that the Law Assembly involves the Gods. In both, grave decisions, matters of life and matters of death, are made ; matters in which people need to be reminded of the Holy Gods so that the gravity of the situation, and their responsibility to something higher than themselves is underlined, so they know they are answering to higher powers. While Wyrd may primarily control the outcome of a battle, the Gods will lend their morale to those who are certain inside that they are fighting a good fight.

If you want to have great Tyr blots, where you summon all the spirit of the military, and celebrate all of its long history, and engage even in an orgy of battle evocation, you have your God. You have your place for that. Don't overstep that. That cult is warded by one who is a son of Odin, and therefore subordinate to Odin : Odin, poetry-seeker, rune-master, wisdom-fetcher. You have your place, a good, full, and ample place. Just don't be imperialistic and try to invade all of the other valid spheres of divinity and value. That's all I ask.


Anonymous Kullervo said...

Never served in the military, eh Sigfried?

12:13 PM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

Please say more.

6:26 PM  
Blogger Wyld Spirit said...

Thank you for this. I "support our troops" in that I pray that they'll be brought home as soon as possible with as little physical and/or psychological damage as possible.

I don't agree with what they're doing, and it frankly boggles me why anyone would join the military right now. If they want to serve and protect our country the Coast Guard is the best option IMO. My husband's family is all very proud Navy and Army, and they're already pressuring my son to enlist when he's old enough. He's TWELVE, for the love of gods!

6:44 PM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

I hope they'll be brought home soon, and yes, with as little physical and psychological damage as possible. I also hope that the civilians in the countries they've been sent to will have as little physical and psychological damage as possible. I'm sure you'll support your son in being what his heart calls out for him to be, whatever that is. Heill upon him and you and all your kin.

11:12 PM  

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