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The Legion is my country

There is a strangeness to politics in that leftists tend to dislike the military, yet socialism always ultimately organises society in a militaristic way. There is no social organisation more egalitarian than a barracks—not only do you eat the same food, you wake up at the same time. Hence every socialist country, especially North Korea, turns into a barracks state to one degree or another. Even Britain’s NHS offers a rationed one-size-fits-all service. “What do yer mean ‘is there another type of bed’, wat do ya think this a bleedin ’otel? This is an NHS ’ospital, soldier.”

Socialism is mostly feminine, but its Spartan element is what is masculine within it. I met a Corbyn voter—Corbyn practically being a communist—who complained that there were too many shampoo brands at the supermarket; it overwhelmed him and he thought it was irrational. I also thought the same when I was a Marxist—I thought the consumer choice seemed an irrational replication of resources, wasteful; and this is still a common socialist argument, particularly among environmentalists—although it is not true, the market is more rational and parsimonious in this regard.

However, I think all men agree with the basic sentiment and that is because consumerism is for women—the consumer society exists to please women, almost all adverts are directed at women (except for, perhaps, certain car brands, video games, and computers). A man who “shops til he drops” is a gay man—there is no need to elaborate. Men save, reduce, discipline—women permit, consume, relax. Hence “barracks socialism” can appeal to a certain masculine sensibility; although, if you think it through, there is no need to turn society into a military camp—ultimately, my Corbynista just needed a wife to choose his shampoo for him (a task from which she would derive considerable satisfaction). No need to reorganise society into a labour camp with uniform grey rations all round—just get a wife.

Multiculturalism and multiracialism amount to socialism, since socialism always targets the family and these two phenomena target the national family; really, “multiculturalism” is a euphemism for “multiracialism” that trades on the fact culture is more mutable than race—it seeks multiracialism under a cultural rubric. The only place where genuine multiracialism has ever been possible is the French Foreign Legion (organisations like it)—in other words, within a strict military environment. The Legion does not really see itself as French—its motto is “The Legion is my country”. In this environment, where recruits are punished until their French is perfect, people from different races and religions are forged into a single unit—although even here, most recruits are Europeans (and some blacks—a demonstration that Europeans can work with blacks more easily than with Asians; a fact to ponder).

The Legion seeks to show its allegiance to the French state through almost suicidal courage—the Legion’s history is filled with incidents where it fought to the death. The elitism and quasi-suicidal courage demonstrated by the legionnaires are necessary corollaries to their status as “outsiders”—to prove they belong to France, they must sacrifice thrice over. Previous identities are totally erased; and this is helped by the fact legionnaires have often burned their relations with friends, families, and even with the law in their home countries (the Legion does not accept outright criminals, as legend holds; but it certainly accepts “grey zone” men who want a completely new start). This romantic element to the Legion—its gypsy-bandit aspect that features in Beau Geste and in Jünger’s adolescent attempt to join the Legion—also contributes to its multiracial character; it is like a pirate band, except piracy made respectable and honourable.

What the Legion demands comes close to what civic nationalism would be if civic nationalism was applied with consistency. Civic nationalists often complain about poor language use among immigrants—or about the continuation of outsider religious practices. Ideally, these would be stamped out by Legion-like discipline: people would be drilled to learn the language and customs flawlessly—to “fully integrate”. The model would be Heinlein’s Starship Troopers where “service means citizenship” (the troopers in the novel are multiracial); and, indeed, service in the Legion means French citizenship.

Since all immigration is socialistic, civic nationalism is “national socialism” in that it seeks to practice leftist cultural values, such as female emancipation, within the nation (so that all Muslim immigrants must be unveiled—yet they may still come and participate, be “elevated” by the democratic culture). However, civic nationalists are unprepared to be so harsh in order to attain their purported aims—and people further to the left would never accept the required militaristic discipline.

Incidentally, the reason the Legion seems a bit “gay” is that this notion that men could leave their families and find escape in a new all-male brotherhood is naturally attractive to homosexuals—William S. Burroughs created a similar notion with his “wild boys”, militaristic bandits. The Legion is a family for people who cannot have families—and an all-male family to boot, so it simultaneously satisfies the sexual urge as well as the need for “a family that is not a family”. The Legion’s homoeroticism has been explored by filmmaker Claire Denis in her Beau Travail (1999)—clearly a play on Beau Geste—and the Legion’s physicality, aesthetic relation to the male body, increases the homosexual angle; as a woman, Denis could grasp this fact.

As with barracks socialism itself, the prospect that a whole nation would be turned into the Foreign Legion is not appetising. The Legion is an impressive organisation in its own terms, but it lacks a great deal that a real “fatherland” has—above all, what makes the Legion peculiar is that it has no blood bonds between the legionnaires; and it is only through martinet discipline, elitism, and a willingness for total suicidal sacrifice that the Legion can function—and that would be what workable civic nationalism would be like; few have the stomach for it.


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