Ever wonder why the Left concentrates so closely on using the military to promote social change, be it Truman ordering integration, or sneaking around the Uniform Code of Military Justice with “Don’t ask, Don’t tell,” before memetically morphing DADT into the worst thing since Auschwitz, or, most recently, pushing for integration of women into the ground gaining combat arms? A lot of folks assume that it’s just because the Left hates the military, hates the United States, and wants to do everything they can to undermine and ruin both. I won’t say there aren’t people like that (and, be it noted, there seems to have arisen a fair number of folks who hate the United States and are on the far Right), but I don’t think that’s it in the main.
Rather, as I’ve said here before – and I know people sometimes have trouble believing it – it’s that the Left’s ultimate articulable value and principle, their core article of faith, is the notion of the malleability and “perfectibility” of man via training, education, social engineering, propagandization, and relentless, merciless nagging. Some, more realistic types like Bill Ayers’ Weathermen colleagues, thought they’d have to kill about an eighth of the United States population, about a fifth of the adults, to get anywhere, after taking power, but they were still about training and re-education. The to-be-killed? Oh, those would be the ones who didn’t accommodate themselves to re-education.
Don’t think that’s core to the leftist world view? Note, then, Lenin’s notion of “New Soviet Man.” Note, further, the initial draft of the SDS’s Port Huron Statement, “Man is… infinitely perfectible.”1 Note the degree to which liberal-leaning and leftist sorts go into academic training and education, or acquire the ability to nag en masse via taking over most of the media and publishing. (Oh, puh-leeze, of course they have.) Contemplate their almost universal faith in things like rehabilitation of criminals.
Their problem here is that, article of faith notwithstanding, Lenin and the Soviet Union failed. Mao’s Great Leap Forward? His Cultural Revolution? Failed and failed. Pol Pot? After three or so million of his own people murdered, the Khmer Rouge failed. And Ho’s Vietnam barely tried, post war, and didn’t succeed, despite having a number of odd and deeply engrained cultural features that made socialism look like a good and acceptable idea to Vietnamese.
And yet people look at the military – they’ve been looking at the military since at least the time of Sparta’s Lycurgus – and see what they think is profound change, change that goes against human nature, change against self-interest, change of people into something that simply, they think, cannot be natural. Thus, even if they don’t know how to create the change, how to form man as they think he ought to be, this week, they are certain it can be done. How else can the armed forces have so completely and painlessly integrated the races? How else can we so routinely get people to become altruistic even unto death?
The problem is that none of that – literally none of it – is true. We change no one profoundly. If we had someone we could seemingly change profoundly, it would be because he was completely lacking in character, and we could get that appearance only while he was under close supervision. Let the 4th Mongolian Shock Horde show up, with malice in their hearts, and upon their arrival, the appearance we’d get from that spineless jellyfish is of his back as he ran away. We get altruism and courage because people are raised with them in our society. The armed forces can, at best, not undermine those and can reward where they’re demonstrated. They cannot create them.
Integration? In the combat arms – where the living is very hard, much harder than liberal sentiment would permit in civil life; much harder than we ought to want civil life to be – we’ve had some degree of success. In other branches? Not really, no. Black, white, brown, yellow, and red will work together, generally amicably, but they rarely become true friends and comrades. The occasional exceptions are just that, exceptional.
But the Left doesn’t see that. They see apparent harmony and assume, because of that core article of faith on the malleability of man, that the appearance is real. I suspect it would hurt too much to dig into it if, in doing so, they risked discovering or discovered that nothing like what they assume is going on is actually going on. It would be like a Catholic discovering the Pope is an atheist, I think.
Check of proof. Go here.
That is Margaret Carlson, ex-Capitol Gang, JD from George Washington University Law School, demonstrably not a dummy. In that column, Carlson bewails Sexual Violence in the Military. Here’s the problem with that; there is less of it in the military than in civil life, to include especially civil life on college campuses.2 So if one is sniveling about the problem in the military, and the military has less of a problem than the society from which it springs, I think one has to also be assuming that the military could do much better that it is. Why? How? Because they can form character and perfect malleable man like nothing else, of course. At least, I can’t see another way to arrive at the logic Carlson is using there.
The other thing, and the thing I suspect underlies that core article of faith in the malleability of man, is that the Left seems to have a kind of childish faith in what amount to magic. Example, using the Truman example, again, they see the order for integration, and they see the current appearance of racial harmony. Wow; it was instant, it was just that easy, like…magic.
The problem is that a) we took about eighty years to develop a corps of fine black officers and NCOs, beforehand – no magic there – and b) it was hardly easy or cost free. Our post integration performance in Korea was iffy, and when the Army collapsed – which it did – during Vietnam, race was a huge component of that collapse.
2 Here’s a place to start researching that: http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/harassing-military_738058.html
Don’t miss last week’s column… War Games: Why They Don’t Work.
Next week: Universal Soldier or How Bright People Can Have Such Poor Vision.
Tom Kratman is a retired infantry lieutenant colonel, recovering attorney, and science fiction and military fiction writer. His latest novel, The Rods and the Axe, is available from Amazon.com for $9.99 for the Kindle version, or $25 for the hardback. A political refugee and defector from the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, he makes his home in Blacksburg, Virginia. He holds the non-exclusive military and foreign affairs portfolio for EveryJoe. Tom’s books can be ordered through baen.com.
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