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Pi / Grace


The Ukraine War has followed a dynamic that is also seen in civil wars—and will be seen in America, if there is a civil war there in the end. In the war’s opening phases, all the advantage seems to lie with the aristocratic side—the Confederates, the Cavaliers. This side has all the military virtue.

In the early stages, the aristocratic side wins. Then, at a certain point, the tide turns towards the democratic side. The reason for this to be so is that the democratic side is aligned with technology and business—with persuasive intellectual occupations, not coercive military-aristocratic operations.

So what happens is that although they are slow-starters, the democratic side eventually applies techno-science techniques to the military. The classic example is Cromwell’s New Model Army—after a lacklustre start, Parliament organised a new military on the latest scientific lines. This is how the democratic side attains the advantage, because although the aristocrats have military experience and tradition those very things make it hard for them to adopt new practices.

The military is the most conservative organisation in society—that’s why when a society fails it defaults to military rule. The military is conservative because in an existential occupation you want to use tried and tested techniques—if you “wing it” you’ll probably die, not to mention that the military is predicated on traditional authority which means “unquestioning obedience” (which is, by definition, anti-innovation).

Of course, that means, in a war, where people are prepared to try anything to win, the traditional military side will not adopt new techniques—whereas their more democratic opponents, more orientated to economy and technology, will.

The new democratic army never reaches the same quality level as their opponents—but what they can do is apply force in a scientific way. So the Scots-Irish Confederate “berserker” was always a better soldier than any Union soldier he met until the end of the war—but the Union had a disciplined industrial army; so at moments when the berserker would withdraw, based on intuition, the Union Army would apply scientific pressure based on industrial discipline.

Science is often counter-intuitive—the Union generals could identify and exploit opportunities that the intuitive berserker would turn from and apply mass pressure and so achieve an unexpected breakthrough. And, of course, this went along with cannons, railways, Gatling guns, balloons, and all the rest.

Morale is a “faculty X” that can win battles and wars—but it can’t win all by itself. The more mystical-aristocratic side often has better morale or self-confidence, but it ends up with only self-confidence (which can appear to be arrogance—just think about Hitler’s armies in this regard).

So, eventually, the tide turns against the “natural soldiers” and they are defeated—and then are usually portrayed as “evil” by the democratic victors, being more coercive and superstitious (think about the “perfect Christian” General Lee, now hated) because they rely less on technology.

Indeed, there are some people who think the Star Wars story arc (Empire wins - Rebels regroup, Rebels win) is some perennial story—the aristocratic “empire” will always win at first, then the “rebels” will win overall (just like in WWII—Hitler appears to be unstoppable, then is rolled back).

The aristocratic side is then always “the bad guys” (because they lost)—to such an extent there’s even a meme, based on a Mitchell and Webb sketch, where a German officer contemplates the skull insignia on his cap and asks, “Are we…Are we the bad guys?”.

He then talks about how “the bad guys” always seem to win at first and then are turned back—and how the war they are now fighting seems to follow this pattern. Of course, that pattern could be seen as neither “good” nor “bad” but rather as the pattern followed in a conflict between “aristocrat” and “democrat” or “quality” and “quantity”.

For comedians in a democracy, like Mitchell and Webb, the idea that a “bad guy” might become aware of the “Star Wars story arc” seems funny (of course, excluded is the idea that there was a downside to the democratic victory—to win is to be “good”, itself a democratic concept; the aristocrat will say “it would violate my honour to win in that way”, the democrat, being atheist, knows no such scruples—hence the aristocratic suspicion that the “true victory” is in another place, another realm; and that what is noble must always lose on this plane of reality).


Anyway, the same dynamic has played out in the Ukraine War. Russia is the more conservative and aristocratic entity—it started with battle-hardened troops, Wagner in particular. It has the whole “military ethos” and, on paper, has built up a formidable armed forces over the last decade.

Yet you see the deficiencies in the aristocratic approach in Wagner. Just like the Cavaliers or the Confederates, Wagner charms you—it is idiosyncratic, ferocious, personalised. Rather like General Lee, it inspires love (or hate). As with the Scots-Irish berserker the troops fight with maximum initiative and independence—and that makes them a formidable foe in most circumstances.

However, as we’ve seen, that independent spirit also has a deficiency—the very independently-minded men can also turn on their own government. The initiative can be turned against your own side. It can make an effective mercenary in Africa who just does whatever he wants without bureaucratic interference but it can also make a disloyal soldier in a larger war.

Ukraine, for its part, doesn’t have the same military ethos—it prides itself on its democratic orientation. One of its major industries is the production of adverts for the West—it’s about persuasion and commerce, not coercion.

At first, that makes them soft—yet their very softness makes them more adept at “today’s war”, whereas the “aristocrats” always fight yesterday’s war. So, for example, meme warfare is central in modern war—and the Ukrainians dominate the battlefield in this respect.

Zelensky might seem like an inappropriate war leader, being a former comedian, but he’s actually just the right leader for a war in 2023—because war in 2023 isn’t about being Churchill or Stalin, it’s about persuasion. Especially, Zelensky has to persuade the West to send advanced arms to Ukraine—and in this role he’s excellent, in his t-shirt; he’s like Bono—he annoys people, but they give him money for the starving kids anyway.

Plus, the West is decadent—so a lolzy sentimental kidult comedian in a Star Wars t-shirt is actually just the man you want to get the world’s largest economy and military apparatus behind you. Zelensky knows how to win people over—sure, it’s an act and it annoys a lot of people but he’s adept at Twitter and quick-shot videos and all the rest. It wins over enough people.

Compare that to Putin, he’s like a leader from the 1970s who is used to dealing with a tame television and radio establishment where you turn up to some rigid staged photo op like a tele-play and everything is under control. He doesn’t reach anyone beyond his tame audience in Russia. That’s a problem in a modern war.

Similarly, the Ukrainians have done things like hack into Russian electronic billboards and speaker-systems to broadcast propaganda—that’s innovative, clever psychological warfare. It takes a certain innovative non-serious outlook to do that—Russia is too rigid to allow that level of “prankster” force, because they’re afraid that if they let people “mess around” like that then they would “mess around” against the system itself (aristocrats take everything very seriously, democrats don’t—no sacred cows).

In concrete terms, the Ukrainians have led the way in using drones—including attacks by sea, practically an area that didn’t exist before the war. The Russians use drones, but it’s rigid and reactive—they have to buy Iranian drones. The Ukrainians develop their own “in-house” and have moved from crude prototypes to mass-production.

I saw a Russian TV host say “the drones are hitting Moscow, what will we do about F-16s?”—typical TV host talk (who watches TV anymore?). It’s the drones they should be frightened of—because it will be the drones that will bombard Moscow (and other Russian cities) in ever greater numbers. The F-16s aren’t really relevant, that’s yesterday’s war. The Ukrainian drones are where it’s at.

Anyway, this is all parallel to the way the Union Army and the New Model Army ground down qualitatively superior military-aristocratic forces with new technology, mass numbers, and the scientific application of force.


Now, that’s not to say that makes the democrats “good”. What this approach does is kill initiative, as does all technology. So, for example, if you run a sub-branch of McDogual’s in Aix-en-Provenance, thanks to technology, it’s easy to call head office in Ann Arbor, Michigan to find out what you should do. Hell, the head office might even watch videos of your work day so assessed by AI for efficiency…

It leads to micromanagement. You see the same problem in Afghanistan—a general or a politician can watch individual battles over a drone video. They can practically call their troops in real-time to tell them what to do. It used to be the case that a British officer on the Northwest Frontier would be left to “get on with it” because he couldn’t even telegraph for instructions. That means you have to use your initiative. “You’ll have to use your initiative, laddy!”

As it happens, the Ukrainians, in their latest offensive, have been criticised because their soldiers don’t use their initiative. Their junior officers aren’t given freedom to make their own decisions. That’s the downside to democratic mass warfare—you always want to call head office, you always want to call teacher to make sure you “did it right”. Technology makes it easy—“just better check”.

You don’t get that problem with Wagner, who act (or acted) almost entirely on their own initiative. You don’t get that problem with the Scots-Irish berserker. So you lose initiative—you lose the individual, really (as with all technology).

You see the same thing with right-wing complaints about modern university graduates. “They need their hands held!” complain older people. But that’s because they’re products from an ultra-standardised process that is designed in scientific terms to produce a consistent homogeneous product that doesn’t do “weird unexpected things”.

If you buy your Tesla or your iPhone, you don’t expect it to “take its own initiative”—you expect this seamless product that does the same thing every time. Well, our systems exist to make people like that too. That’s why the university graduate seems so “passive”—the better the techno-scientific process, the less initiative the individual will display. Only thugs and lower-status people (like a Wagner soldier) display initiative.

It’s like this American graduate I met a few years ago. “Where are you from?” I said. He looked at me sheepishly and then said, “I’m not sure I should answer that question.” Because it might be racist to say that or even to ask that. He was just a seamless product from an American college, right? Just like putty, even at 23—if you pushed him he just wobbled backwards and forwards until you put the right program in him. No backbone, right?

It’s ironic because an education is meant to make you an independent, autonomous, and self-directed person—but Western education long ago turned into an induction program for McDonald’s restaurants.


So the Ukraine War shows all the hallmarks of a conflict where a more martial and aristocratic people come into conflict with a techno-scientific democracy that is not orientated for war. In the early stages, it seems like a foregone conclusion that the aristocratic side will win. However, once the democracy reorientates its techno-science to war it outcompetes its opponents—being able to innovate faster, use mass production, and take advantage of the latest developments.

In the end, the techno-scientific democratic side can prevail by the scientific application of force where initiative would break. In this case, the Ukrainians can use the intel from American satellites and light-weight systems like Starlink combined with the mass production of drones to hit the Russians with low-cost precision strikes against their infrastructure.

The Russians, meanwhile, lumber along with yesterday’s Cold War stand-off bombers—which are very expensive and will be destroyed at their airfields by cheap mass-produced drones.

This is just one way in which this dynamic plays out. In a similar way, if there were to be a civil war in America, MAGA would win at first—they’d have units on side like the Navy SEALs who have no truck with LGBT+. However, the LGBT+, the progressives, would have Silicon Valley and so on—eventually, they’d degrade these elite war-like groups with whatever technology is current then; probably drones—but also information warfare and so on.

Of course, in a civil war (which is usually also a revolution), there is a dialectical movement—because the democratic techno-science side is also unstable and so you get the Terror and then the Restoration. In the end, even the most reactionary elements are reintegrated into the state—but the new dispensation has accommodated the “New Model Army” too. That’s how you end up with a king, with royal insignia, but a greatly empowered Parliament—for example.


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