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Promethean militaries

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Promethean militaries
« on: March 18, 2007, 01:37:12 AM »

Since I read the Fighting Future War series, I've been thinking about how such a military would be organized, supplied, and led. Would there be rank? Would there be supply lines or does each mercenary have to bring and pay for his own supplies and equipment? How would it respond to undue casualties?

By the latter, I think of the insurgents in Iraq, who are doing an impressive job of stringing their occupiers up. Despite this, they are taking many times more casualties than their American foes. This doesn't seem like a good example for our purposes.

Granted, no two militaries are the same. It could be built from the bottom up like an anti-occupation insurgency, or top-down like a professional mercenary organization. Or there could be hybrids. Of course, there should be options for non-lethal weaponry.

I'm just rambling here, but I think this would be a great place to start.
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Promethean militaries
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2007, 02:29:52 AM »

I actually did a reasonable amount of thinking through this subject (its rudiments, at least). I have a number of notes I wanted to develop further, primarily in future installments of Fighting Future War, also in one or two other places. I don't think I can expand on this too much right now, but I'll see what I can do later.
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Re: Promethean militaries
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2008, 03:12:45 AM »

Unfortunately I never got back to this very important topic (I think I was looking for a new place to live at the time).

However, I think my new post contributes something in that regard.

Also, I've decided recently that established bodies of thought from a freedom perspective (libertarian, etc.) fail the most egregiously where they attempt to address military questions, or more often just feel no compulsion to conceive of improved, comprehensive ideas about militaries, defense, etc. There has bee a tremendous deficit of suitable understanding and creative theory in multiple aspects, beginning with the traditional exception-making for military socialism in classical-liberal economics, and continuing with a rather naive appreciation for mercenaries and insurance (Hoppe). Therefore, I will be making a more concerted effort to redress these deficits.
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Re: Promethean militaries
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2009, 04:13:32 AM »

Personally, I think a hybrid is good.  It provides flexibility and a kind of inbuilt 'special forces' aspect to the entire organization.  After all, the point - as shown by recent conflicts between major powers since 1945 - is to avoid going toe-to-toe but to fight in an oblique approach.  However this is also lengthy and expensive, over time.  It took a long time to resolve the Cold War;  of course, none of the objectives of that conflict would be held by a Promethean entity as I understand it.

I would presume, then, that a Promethean entity would only fight defensively.  I would point at 'War Is a Racket' by Smedley D. Butler (General, USMC, retired) as a practical starting point regarding the philosophy of a Promethean military.
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Re: Promethean militaries
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2009, 01:14:20 AM »

The most basic guiding insight I made reference to in the post above is that security cannot be treated as a singular exception to expectations about institutions in civil society, such as sovereign individual freedoms of expression, association and contract, respect for life and property, and furthermore the hard-won recognition by humanist economists and other social thinkers that making pacts of exclusive monopoly, and corresponding abrogation or violation of individual freedoms, is in no sense a desirable or necessary policy, and does not become so in any realm, no matter how privileged or traditional, or subject to excuses.* Such exception-making is a very grave error which has justified the State, essentially a massive, jealous monopoly on the "legitimate" force industry and all that can be obtained upon that privilege, and which has exhorted civilization to put up with its depredations for thousands of years. In fact, it is an error responsible for the State as a supposed "institution" of civilization rather than the pure recognition of its true reason for being, i.e. respectable exploitation that at best takes a longer-term and more systematic view of factional enrichment compared to unbridled rapacity. It is also an error which distracts from the State's psychological appeals to fear, baseless collective pride, paranoia, vain hopes, anxiety, vaunting, the resignment of responsibility, the illusion of micromanaged control over both daily inconveniences and dangers, and paradoxically, the thrill of mass surrender to Todestrieb (the death drive) which appears quite mad in retrospect.

(For the clearest possible demonstration of what I mean by applying death drive to a mass-scale, watch the 1982 documentary "The Atomic Cafe." For a more recent example, there was also a sense of apocalyptic wonder among many different people across the statist spectrum during the early days of the Bush TWAT after 9-11.)

In short, exception-making for the gargantuan collective-security industry leads to an institutionalized shortage of exactly that security which is sought, while danger is commodified to the advantage of those who profit themselves through their various attachments to the system, to the terrible disadvantage of the rest.

With all that understood, we arrive at questions of specifics with a much firmer foundation. We ought to understand that incorporating the principles of voluntarism, individualism, and other proven values of civilization will not only improve the influence of security workers (soldiers, police, etc.) among society and as part of society (rather than eroding or destroying civilization through militarism, collectivism, and barbarism), but also contribute to the effectiveness of security workers and their organizations at their stated purpose, i.e. making people more secure, though not the unstated goal of the State, to gain from power. Confusion, or deliberate confusion of the goal of effective security and goals of factions under State power has been the problem. These are not the same thing at all.

What this leads us to is a list of specifications which sounds radical but makes more and more sense the more you courageously explore what it would look like. For example, minimizing collectivism requires a different, individualistic model to replace military hierarchy and units, which I see as a form of coherence or cohesion around leaders. A useful analogy is the way that sailors would sign on with captains with a proven track record, or fail to sign on based on a flagging reputation. Likewise, if soldiers were individually free to follow leaders (or not), that would put an effective break on the incompetence, unreliability and brutality which has plagued so many institutional officer corps. It's really nothing we shouldn't expect and demand; if people who worked at any company in the world were not free to quit from under a boss, we would expect that company to go horribly wrong, and we wouldn't stand for itónot to mention that the "company" in question MUST be patronized by the public for their security needs, no consumer choice whatsoever. There's some exceptionalist hocus-pocus in our inculcated attitudes; if the US Army were just another security firm, like "Blackwater USA" (now Xe) which is basically a corporate extension of the State, it would become obvious that no one should stand for its way of doing business without freedom of choice for employees or customers. But people don't regard it as falling under wider analysis. Meanwhile, many allow themselves to criticize the very existence of Blackwater, which at least pretends to be a private company, and doesn't enslave its employees.

The ability to refuse to obey is also an important check on orders which may be egregious, or on war plans which may be aggressive. In fact, Promethean soldiers shouldn't show up at all, if a self-styled commander decided to make excuses for aggressive actions. They should respond by signing on to someone more responsible. The burden to earn trust, and to justify any seemingly extraordinary action should be put on those who wish to lead, and initiate. In contrast, the current monopolistic State system all rides on a hair trigger, in the hands of whomever holds power. The military at large is not supposed to ask questions, it is expected to obey, no matter what they're told to do, no matter how aggressive, no matter how needless or destructive. Soldiers would be perfectly willing to fight for defense, and I think other members of society would be eager to invest in prudent defense by supporting them. It's aggression and control that require the State system of hierarchy and collectivism. We should have been asking ourselves why soldiers should need to be induced (forced or bribed) to march off to war against their will, all this time. That was a sign of the basic corruption of the type of system of military organization in a State. It's clearly not sensible that anyone should inherit a vast machinery of war compelled to obey, simply because of a number of votes they receive! Warmongering in a civilized society should cause support to melt away, as should disastrous boondoggles, corruption, and unnecessary violence. That is, of course, why statist soldiers are basically glorified janissaries who are not allowed to quit without permission, much less object if they're ordered to slaughter innocents, and no amount of pretense of a "volunteer" army will change that.

Other points to explore include unit articulation, decentralization, fluidity of doctrine, market logistics, individualistic initiative, infiltration tactics, professionalism, militias, and strategic means and ends in accord with Prometheanism.

There's certainly a book in this, or a whole lot of them. Not surprisingly I have been collecting notes (e.g. for the expansions of Fighting Future War series) from time to time with an eye to that. I wish I had more time at present to flesh more of it out, because I really think it's fertile and largely untrodden ground and very critical to explore. There's actually a modest inclusion of some organizational points in my novel, in the meantime.



* The passionate Belgian economist Gustave de Molinari deserves special mention for being the first economist to make a breakthrough of consistency, pointing out that a "defense" monopoly should be examined under the same economic logic as any other; namely, that it is likely to yield an inferior product for a greater cost, as a consequence of curtailing choice, incentive, initiative and competition. At the time, this theoretical arrow pointing towards market anarchism was rejected even by Bastiat, otherwise an eloquent and passionate example of a classical liberal, only to be taken up later by Rothbardians among the Austrian school economists.
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Re: Promethean militaries
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2009, 04:06:15 AM »

One of the questions is:  assuming there is a threat that would necessitate the creation of a Promethean military - presumably here in North America, since the philosophy originates here - what would it have to face?  Ultra-statist Chinese?  Would it go after the bastards in Myanmar and instate the incarcerated democratic leader?  Would it undermine the Iranian Revolutionary guard?

If not these somewhat idealistic but admittedly adventuristic aims, what threats would prove aggressive toward the Promethean entity/military?
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Re: Promethean militaries
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2009, 09:41:33 PM »

Any discussion of a Promethean military on my part presupposes a Promethean society, or proto-Promethean society initiative, somewhere in the world, to defend. In which case the principle threat and resistance would seem to be statists whose States have not yet crumbled.

Of course, a Promethean military is a possibility for one proto-PS institution which allows a Promethean society to coalesce, along with other replacement institutions for the State. But the idea of a Promethean military existing by itself doesn't make sense.
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