As I had mentioned in my immediately previous Post, the Army is going to make all 1.1.million or so of its troops – as currently defined – take a “positive thinking” course.
Bruce Levine’s article discussing it is here.
This will teach them “positive psychology” and “emotional resiliency”.
You’d think that such skills – at least in a general sort of way – would be something kids would get growing up. That is: being raised by parents into the skills and competencies of maturity. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said 45 years ago: “Families shape their children’s character and ability … by and large, adult conduct in society is learned as a child”.
But he ran afoul of all sorts of ‘sensibilities’ with that profoundly accurate insight. The advocates for blacks who supplanted Martin Luther King were not interested in having honkies tell them about the ‘black’ family and the just-emerging radical-feminists already knew that the Family was the enemy of Woman and of all their own schemes, visions, and dampdreams.
So Moynihan got buried for his troubles (he came back, but no longer so generous with the truth).
LBJ had backed him up until things really got hot. In the Spring of 1965 LBJ had told an audience at Howard University that “when the family collapses, it is the children that are usually damaged … when it happens on a massive scale the community itself is crippled”.
Political Correctness managed to stifle or ridicule such wisdom, even when after some years the accuracy of those insights began to manifest itself in frakkulent consequences that undermined not only the inner-city black family but the white and middle-class family as well.
But ‘spin’ is only a matter of perception; you can put lipstick on a pig, but you can’t make a silk purse out of its ear. Pigskin is not silk – and the reason for that is NOT that you don’t have a ‘positive attitude’. Actual and real entities are just that: independently existing things or beings that do not require our approval or notice to exist.
We have reached a point in the national saga where the great Spin Campaign that accompanied the Revolutions of the Identities, fueled by scads of cash, is finally reaching a point where it can no longer plaster over all the cracks in the frakkulously shoddy Buildings that the Revolution has constructed.
As the Family has declined – or rather been Deconstructed, and with government’s vigorous help – the military found itself required to draw from a pool of kids who had been ‘liberated’, it turns out, from substantial swaths of the type of training and experience, the formation and the Shaping, that Parents in the Family setting (with the help of an interlocked extended-family) had provided to all the previous generations of military recruits.
In a general way, the kids began to increasingly display the effects of entitlement, lack of challenge, fewer internal strengths upon which to draw, less ability to postpone gratification, and an ominous presumption that none of that stuff was really necessary in the first place.
Oh, and increasing dependence on junk food and the inability to be without their personal communication devices (in the beginning, Walkmans and then on into the early Gameboys and up to the current panoply).
You can say that they simply reflected general trends in society, but that’s just kicking the can down the road into the next yard: We were developing a society that couldn’t produce mostly and reliably well-Grounded kids, ripe for the next Phases of maturing. LBJ’s maturationally ‘crippled’ children were issuing from an equally maturationally ‘crippled’ community.
And that was before the radical-feminists managed to run the Tailhook scam successfully while simultaneously assuring the country that a) there would be no more old-fashioned fighting because the USSR had collapsed and that b) even if there were the military could win quickly and cheaply like it did against Saddam and that c) everything was going to be hi-tech and you didn’t have to be a man to push buttons although d) ‘women’ can reliably do heavy fighting just like men can and e) if you didn’t think that then you needed to have your ‘perceptions’ and your ‘attitude’ adjusted and f) the military was primarily a job opportunity anyway and therefore also g) a Constitutional right and h) everybody would get used to it after a while so i) in the meantime just shut up and spin everything to look like everything is actually working out fine.
And – by golly – for a while that plan worked.
It wouldn’t have been so bad if the national policy was to avoid fighting. The military could have devolved into a Scandinavian military on a huge scale – a nice socialization opportunity for kids and a chance to look nice in a nifty uniform perched on some hefty military vehicle.
But then the Beltway – in no small part due to its basset-like devotion to a country which had steadfastly refused to sign a treaty of alliance with Us – began to pursue policies that pretty much guaranteed that We would be doing more fighting. The hot ironies!
After the shock of 9-11, and under the pressure of the Bushling and his Darth-handler, the military was unable to stand up for itself – as much as it could have at that point. Because by that time the bosses had gotten where they were by going along with just about every Impossible Thing that they were asked to Believe Before Breakfast. And make sure that it ‘looked’ like a Good Idea that was ‘working’. And with absolutely no bad consequences.
Thus they let themselves drink the imperial Kool-Aid convinced that it was a Nebuchadnezzar of victory champagne well-earned by the ‘liberators’.
Thus came preventive war and a combination of hellish street-fighting and Occupation-style suppression of an increasingly complicated roster of terrorists, suspected terrorists, joyriding gun-shooters, patriotic members of the Resistance (how DARE they resist US?), and civilians of all ages and genders.
First in Iraq, and now also in Afghanistan – where there is somewhat less street-fighting and a whole lot more mountain fighting, which is what folks in those parts are bred for.
By some perverse and unforeseeable bit of bad luck, the military comprised of all those kiddos didn’t do well under the pressure of a bad strategic plan, a poorly thought out political plan, and an increasingly hostile or cynical population.
Especially when things got dragged out for years.
And even though more military ‘contractors’ were brought in than there were troops; partly to do the hunky work that uniformed troops used to do so as to free up more troops for combat, partly to provide more effective combat ‘teeth’ since – by some perverse and unforeseeable bit of bad luck – the troops weren’t holding up as well under pressure as had been expected, hoped, or dampdreamed.
Who could have been surprised? Were We under the impression – looking back to the Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast – that you could flood a military with dubiously prepared newbies while at the same time ‘demasculinizing’ it (reducing ‘stress’, abandoning real adherence to standards, corroding authority, not being ‘judgmental’) and still maintain combat efficiency?
And maintain – although the concept may seem incongruous – combat ‘maturity’?
Did We think it was actually possible that general officers – having learned to Believe A Dozen Impossible Things every day or at least to keep a verrry straight face – would retain their capacity to distinguish a workable strategic and tactical plan from a dampdream? And a frakkulently vicious dampdream at that?
Now We find out that 1 out of every 6 troops is on some sort of prescription psychiatric medication (let’s not ask about illegal drugs). The Pentagon doesn’t create costs for itself by prescribing drugs when they aren’t necessary, especially on such a vast scale.
Did We think that you could field a force where one-sixth of the troops are on psychiatric medication - some of them on multiple 'cocktails' of the stuff - and still maintain combat efficiency?
We have a weird way of 'supporting the troops'.
In an even more hell-hot irony, the military is now trying to run the same frakkulent gameplan that the Beltway and its assorted Advocacies have been running for decades: IT’S ALL IN YOUR ATTITUDE AND YOUR PERCEPTION.*
Do ya think there’s some serious downside to a new ‘reform’? It’s just your poor attitude – We will change it for you.
Do ya want to kick the tires of some new ‘reform’? It’s just your hateful and pessimistic attitude – We will change it for you.
Do ya get a really baaad feeling as you see what’s happening all around you? It’s just your oppositional and backlashing attitude – We will change it for you.
The assumption – Illusion, really – underlying it all is that the world has no reality of its own, beyond the individual’s or the specific group’s ‘perceptions’.
And if you have the Correct ‘attitude’ then your ‘perceptions’ will be Correct.
Because IT’S ALL IN HOW YOU HOLD YOUR HEAD: IF YOU HOLD YOUR HEAD THE RIGHT WAY, THEN EVERYTHING IS ‘ON THE LEVEL’.
This lunacy would be grounds for advising professional help if We were talking about the neighbor next door. But through the good offices of the Beltway it pretty much became National Policy in the past 40 years.
For those 40 years any doubts – no matter how well explained or conceived, no matter how solidly grounded – were arrogantly dismissed as ‘backlash’ or ‘hatefulness’ or ‘quaintness’ … and the ship raced on into the dark bergy night.
No reality – and there was plenty of it, and more of it every year – was allowed to stand in the way: any un-Correct reality, any ‘consequences’, were ignored or explained away, or else the person(s) who noticed them were simply name-called into silence.
But War – who knew? – is one of those realities that is really a Reality: there’s only so far you can go ignoring what's actually going on and then you are faced with Reality. And most often it is shooting at you.
Generations of kids and professional generations of officers (all the way up to the top after the past few decades) had gotten used to the mushy, plastic, feel-good world spun by an America that no longer retained contact with much reality, preferring – in genuinely decadent style – to live in its illusions: oldsters rheumily recalled their salad days as the Greatest Generation; revolutionary cadres arrogantly dwelled in the consoling apocalyptic dampdream of their favorite agenda and its ‘vision’; and exponentially increasing numbers of youngsters found that they could remain in their childish ways rather than face the stern demand that they put away those things and develop a Self that could face the world.
And the Beltway pandered to them all.
You can’t do that in War. That notoriously obstreperous god, Ares Ferox et Atrox, pretty much runs his operation as he sees fit, once humans are give him some ground to work with.
So ‘positive thinking’ doesn’t have as much power as it might have in kindler, gentler, softer and less-demanding venues. Just like no amount of Correct browbeating and the threat of dire career-changing bureaucratic consequences are going to have any effect on the divine Ares. We are in his world now – and We put Ourselves there. Or let the government do it on Our authority.
There’s nothing wrong with ‘positive thinking’ per se. In fact, it’s a good thing for kids to learn, as early as possible (in childhood, under the tutelage of a committed and already-mature mother and father, say).
But if that childhood has been wasted or, worse, actively negative in its consequences for a kid’s development, then there will be no Self that can ‘platform’ (as military types like to say) the capability to think in a positive way. If the ship hasn’t been well-constructed at the shipyard, then no amount of whizz-bang add-ons to the upper-deck arrays are going to keep it afloat, especially in a storm. At sea.
Generations of kids, now, have been used as pawns in the on-going melodramtic soap-operas of their unripe parents’ personal whims and ‘choices’ and ‘autonomy’ and ‘liberation’. All with the deliberate strategic approval of assorted Advocacies (“the kids are the State’s problem” as one radical-feminist once arrogantly declared), backed by the full faith and authority of the Beltway.
As the Family – that indispensable ‘shipyard’ and ‘academy’ for human Masters and Commanders – has been Deconstructed, so the kids have suffered the most monstrously profound human deprivations. But since Maturity and Character and Self and Mastery were all considered “quaint” if not also “oppressive”, then their absence was spun – in best ‘positive thinking’ style – as ‘progress’ and ‘liberation’.
And to be alone facing Ares, on his own turf, with no sense of any ‘God’ on your side Accompanying you and doing a little bit of supply and down-field blocking … a battle-situation can get to be a hellishly lonely place really really fast.
Your options are: tune into your own primal hostility and literally go ‘berserk’; turn up your personal music device and close your eyes; get some drugs to make the pain go away. **
The military has apparently found that no amount of AA and AAA batteries can stem the psychic tide, so it has turned to drugs. In staggering quantities. And wants to try to impose a crash-course of 'positive thinking' - perhaps on the witless Beltway-ish assumption that the human self is plastic and that government action can compensate for profound failures in early development and maturing.
And do you think that when a kid comes back from this type of war – having been shot at, having faced Ares, perhaps berserkerly having killed innocents – and on top of that having been on psychoactive medication for months or even years under intense pressure … do you think that such a kid is going to be ready for prime-time in the civilian world?
No doubt the Pentagoons who are assigned to run this program – in the sure and certain hope of a nifty medal and a promotion – are selling this to the desperate brass as a ‘force-multiplier’: this program will enable each of Our troops to increase performance by a factor of (fill in the blank – and let yourself be optimistic and positive).
You might as well introduce plague-laden rats onto the battlefield as all these drugs.
And as for ‘optimism’: those eerily adult boys who bore the brunt of the Civil War battles weren’t ‘optimistic’ … they were DETERMINED. They had been raised into a world where you had to take on adult responsibilities earlier rather than later; they were secure in the knowledge that – however hidden in the Fog of Life – there was a God who would sustain them and in the end recognize their efforts and indeed redeem them; they were convinced that the Cause in which they suffered and exerted their utmost was quite literally Just and Good.
They lived in a world, therefore, hell and gone from Ours, especially in the past 40 years.
And as Levine notes, there are times when ‘positive thinking’ isn’t going to really be the most realistic way to go. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer remarked of his beloved Germany in the mid-‘30s: “Once you have gotten on the wrong train, walking backwards through the cars isn’t going to help much”.
The only realistic thinking – and in that sense genuinely constructive – that could have been embraced in the half-hour after Titanic struck the berg was to realize she was doomed, accept the enormous shock of her imminent sinking, and then brace yourself to your duties and get folks efficiently into the boats (inadequate as the supply was).
Mooning about on the bridge ‘bravely’ and ‘optimistically’ thinking that this ship couldn’t sink … was the height of lethal fatuity. And a profound existential failure if you were charged in duty with the safety of so many lives.
(Of course, it was also a profound existential and moral failure of duty for the designers – under pressure from the owners who were paying the bill – to allow her to be built with so few lifeboats. But such a Consequence as actually came to happen was so far removed from the designers and builders and owners when they were putting her together that they could so much more easily embrace their self-serving Illusions.)***
America can fail? America can lose a war? This is not ‘positive thinking’. It wasn’t for the Captain of Titanic, it wasn’t for LBJ as Vietnam started to go south, and it isn’t now.
We have most of the field force over there; they are supplemented by even more ‘contractors’ than there are troops; they are supplemented not only by National Guard units but also by thousands of Navy and Air Force personnel who have been quietly sent over to function as Army troops; and now 1 of every 6 has to be put on psychiatric drugs.
And this is supposed to go on for years.
For a country that is so hysterically concerned for ‘the children’, We have a weird way of showing it.
And We are not going to win this ‘war’ even if We do win it – which in any case is hugely dubious.
The troops who return from all this are not going to be well-placed for living in society. Even in whatever condition American society is going to be in by the time they get back.
So much then remains to be done.
*You can’t do better than to review this piece to realize how much ‘reform’ is really a matter of Illusion and ‘perception’ rather than any serious reliance on solid facts.
This is a site that is – according to its Tag line – dedicated to “Inspiring Sociological Imaginations Everywhere”. Nice enough, but such a purpose is clearly an exercise in imagination and ‘hope’ (however fatuous and misplaced). Further, it is the type of gambit that is eminently suited to academia and classrooms: ‘let’s imagine that …’ whatever and such-and-such and so forth and so on. Given the infinite plasticity of the imagination, and given the rarefied and non-material nature of academic speculation and the classroom setting, you can play with Imagination and Vision and What-Might-Be all day as a child continually reshaped play-dough.
The article in the link reviews some official military (Navy, in this case) recruiting stuff that is targeted at young females. You can be ruff-tuff and break new ground in “redefining femininity” by joining the Navy. A bunch of GI-Jane types (whether actual Navy persons or just hired actresses is uncertain) strike classic military tough-person poses, in all the right uniforms.
Differences between males and females – according to the Naval philosopher-flak who wrote the ad’s text – are “stereotypes’. THIS is an assertion that doesn’t even qualify scientifically as a Hypothesis. But it is one of the core ‘justifications’ of the entire radical-feminist agenda: that there are not now and never have been any actual differences between the male and female of the species (Evolution therefore is not considered valid – at least where human sex differences are involved); and that consequently all such putative and ‘traditional’ differences (going back to the beginning of human societies) are merely patriarchal oppression.
No other explanation can be Correctly discussed.
Is it possible that there indeed are fundamental differences (quite possibly built-into the species by Evolution, which has done so everywhere else in the organic world)? And that the species recognized that reality from its earliest times and built its societies around that accurately perceived reality?
But the radical-feminists, surfing ever so shrewdly the wave of the Civil Rights Movement, cast ‘patriarchy’ as the Jim Crow regime, and ‘mehnnnn’ as the Jim Crow Southerners, and hence their ‘oppression’ constituted an outrage and Constitutional deprivation against ‘women’ that was even greater than what Jim Crow had been doing to blacks.
Creating, by the by, or rather re-creating in gender politics a new Civil War where the Feds were the Yankees and ‘mehhhhn’ were the Confederates.
And, more specifically here, creating a current military situation where actual combat efficiency, utterly indispensable when facing ‘War’ – which cannot be spun or wished away or ‘re-perceived’ as something less awful – has been hugely degraded.
**You can now add getting-pregnant or complaining that you were ‘raped’ by one of your own side’s ‘heroes’ to the list of options, but it only works for a certain military demographic. . And I’d kinda like to know the gender-breakdown of that 1-in-6 figure who are receiving psychiatric drugs; although it’s possible that – as the Navy did with recording pregnancy cases in the first Gulf War – the Army, so very slyly, ‘doesn’t keep records or stats of that sort’.
***Yes, it was not simply the lack of adequate boats, reduced in number to give her upper decks a ‘cleaner’ appearance. Inferior rivets in vital spots, the compromise of her bulkheads’ capability by reducing their height to give her a more imposing formal staircase … all played their part as well.
By amazing coincidence, a week or less after admitting the drug statistics amd its plans for 'positive thinking, on July 29th the Army releases a report admitting that its suicide rate surpasses the civilian population and that 'risky behavior' has also increased to worrying levels. There is a link within the press release to the full Report.
The bodies of two US Navy sailors were recovered in a remote part of Afghanistan. One had been trained as a cook; the other as a Hull Technician (works on the hulls of ships). While there is a great deal of chin-stroking about why the two had taken an armed SUV and gone out into ‘unsecure’ countryside, I point out that the bigger question is: what were Navy personnel doing so far from ships, water, and … stuff like that.
The answer is that for quite some time the Navy has been sending along personnel it doesn’t need for its dwindling number of ships, to help the Army and the Pentagon keep the troop numbers up in the Greater Southwest Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. So Junior can join the Navy and wind up in the equivalent of Fort Courage out in the hills of the desert badlands.
For more on that little gambit, see my Post of February of this year here.