The Unpleasant Aspects of Authority and Professionalism:
Morris van de Camp
Advice for Young White Men
A number of years ago, I was sent on a boondoggle to advise some military cadets about an engineering project they were working on. While having lunch following the meeting, one of the cadets complained that all sorts of “old timers” came and went and gave the same advice for the soon to be commissioned subalterns in the US Military. The advice was:
“Listen to your NCOs.”
As one that was clearly an “old timer” and sitting in front of a cadet seeking advice, I could only say, “Listen to your NCOs is good advice.” It is good advice, but I knew then I’d flubbed it. There are, in fact, much deeper aspects to leadership and professionalism, some of which are quite unpleasant and there is no book or article out there that really tells a person about how to handle such things. I’ll give my lowly attempt to advise the young white men reading this website, on the ins and outs of such sometimes ugly work of carrying out one’s duties while in authority.
The perspective of this article will be within this author’s experience of more than 20 years in both the military and the big, hierarchical organizations in Corporate America. I’ll also add a bit about what I saw watching a startup company working two highly lucrative contracts fall apart due to managerial mistakes on the part of the company president and the dishonesty of his business partner. They’ll be many military examples below, because I did military stuff while young, and while young one learns the best lessons.
Because this is an article in a pro-white website, I’ll get the racial aspect of things mentioned up front. African-Americans tend to be highly uneven. One will run into a black that “has it” in knowledge, professionalism, and ability and then the next black you meet will be an incompetent, low-IQ criminal with unearned, high self-esteem. One will ask the heavens in frustrated futility, who gave such a person an officer’s commission or corner office at corporate? Often the African-American that “has it” has family members involved in serious crime. Additionally, while things may appear to be working well, the normal problems in black-white relations can suddenly explode and they’ll be big setbacks that take a month or more to recover from. Hispanics, many of whom are white or mostly white, can be a professional problem, but their problem tends to be unrelated to the fact that they are Hispanic, unlike with blacks whose issues are always tied up with race.
While Negroes are uneven, I’ve found that I’ve always been professionally disappointed with Asians outside of a classroom environment – barring one exception. By Asians, this means the whole of the Far East, from Korea down to Laos and Cambodia, though I’ve never really worked with Japanese. One colleague of mine who had lived for years in Asia insisted to me that Asians make a good impression for about two months and then they fall apart professionally. Even after I knew this fact, I still once nearly got marooned in Newark, New Jersey, on a business trip because an Asian I was stuck working with had run into his two month use-by-date and absconded in a surprising, unprofessional way.
I know that Asian societies appear to be prosperous and “high IQ,” but historically they do tend to fall apart. South Vietnam collapsed after the Americans left them to their own devices very quickly 1975. China has gone from order to anarchy several times in the 20th century and there was a severe famine in 1961. North Korea is Korean culture without the Americans. Cambodia is a wreck.
As far as Jews go, I believe that any person in a high position in the US Government – for example an elected official, presidentially appointed; senate-approved cabinet member, or senior officer/executive cannot really have a genuine friendship with a Jew. There is simply too much history of wicked Jewish advisors, flatterers, spies, and schemers. In modern America, the Clinton Administration was severely damaged by the Jewish seductress Monica Lewinsky, President Truman’s Undersecretary for the US Treasury Harry Dexter White was a Soviet spy and probably helped “lose China,” and Senator Joe McCarthy was undone by Jewish staffers. This list could go on, and I haven’t even explored Queen Esther’s or Joseph’s shenanigans in the Old Testament. With that being said, one will probably not have any Jewish problems if you are manager of the paper bag folding operation at the US Navy Supply Center – East Woonsocket, but you may need to watch out as a bank manager or insurance adjuster.
As with all things, in the big picture predictions are easy to make, but up close, in smaller groups, it’s a crap shoot. For example, it is easy to predict a black neighborhood will fall to ruin or crime, but should one wind up in command of forty men in some far-off US military base, or in charge of a team of engineers at “corporate,” it could very well be that your hardest worker, most trusted confidant, and biggest supporter could be a black guy who thinks Stokely Carmichael wasn’t radical enough. The guy closest to you in every other way – racially, socially, etc. – might become a rival and try and screw you in a way that ends up making everyone look bad. Life is strange and contradictory and until “the revolution” managing diversity is going to be an additional complication. Remember what I wrote above and try and see your way through the fog as best you can.
What I mean about authority boils down to three different factors: Leadership, management, and command. By leadership I mean the art of getting people to do what you want them to do. I don’t believe the cheap sentimentality about “leaders” saying “let’s go” instead of “you go” that comes up on one’s LinkedIn feed. The art of leadership is one of seasons. There is a time to gather stones and cast them away. A time to be involved in the details and step back; a time to scold and a time to praise. (See Part I below for further advice on this.)
In the military one does leadership the instant a person has one more stripe than another and you must do whatever you must do to get the job done, but you don’t get to punch or choke someone. In the corporate world, identifying leaders is usually a matter of title and they must do the same thing to manipulate people into doing what you want them to do.
Management is more of developing and controlling a process. For example, at the Post Office, it doesn’t matter what the letter says, but it must be in an envelope with the following dimensions, with the following weight, with the stamp, address, and return address arranged in a particular way. Management is how an airline clerk decides how to deal with passengers on an overbooked flight. Changing the process requires leadership, and in some cases, command authority.
The third aspect to authority is command. Leadership and management goes into command, but command has one additional aspect – judicial responsibilities. In the US Military, command means a person can adjudicate cases brought under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. When I was in command of a 140-man ad hoc unit headed to a war zone, I ordered three men returned to me by the US Navy’s Shore Patrol in handcuffs. It is commander’s duty to judge and punish wrongdoers. Unless one is a sociopath, this is unpleasant. In a non-military setting a command also means a person acting in loco parentis, or someone having a power of attorney. This could also be a shareholder or executive with duties to ensure a company and its employees is operating within the law.
So What to Add to “Listen to Your NCOs?” (Part I)
There is a great deal of literature on many of the positive aspects of leadership out there. It is good to read Dale Carnegie’s 1936 classic How to Win Friends and Influence People as well as Robert Greene’s 1998 The 48 Laws of Power. Donald T. Phillips’s 1993 Lincoln on Leadership is also good. I’d add four additional things from my own experience:
- Always give orders in your own name. Especially unpopular orders. If, for example, the Captain tells you to bring your platoon to the motor-pool on Saturday morning to paint and wash the pioneer kits, tell the men YOU said to do this. They all know the Captain gave the order anyway but if you duck behind railroad tracks you don’t own – you’ll lose authority.
- If you are in charge of any sort of organization don’t ever behind-the-back badmouth a subordinate or peer that is doing “just OK” professionally although you are frustrated with that person for some reason. Without mentioning specifics, I saved myself and others a great deal of embarrassment following this rule many times. If you need to vent your frustration, find someone discreet and who doesn’t know the parties involved to talk things over with. The higher rank you go the less you can afford to express your frustration in most circumstances. Gossip gets out and it’s ruinous.
- If you are getting a vehicle owned by the US Military to use in some mission, walk around it before driving off. People do strange things to Uncle Sam’s fifteen passenger vans, like chain the back bumper to a tree. This will also allow some perspective on the veracity of the various, complex, triple-bank shot, multi-agency conspiracy theories said to arise from the “military-industrial complex.”
- If you are joining military focus on cardio, not weight training. Don’t get top-heavy. It doesn’t matter how much you can bench press, and if you get stuck in an infantry unit you must lug around your body’s useless extra muscle-weight as well as the weight of your equipment. Additionally, for most people, the chest expansion program fueled by creatine monohydrate, bison-milk whey supplement, and vitamins formulated to match the marrow of a wooly mammoth at age 22 usually means a belly expansion program at age 42. While there are exceptional people whose ripped, 56-year-old body with the six-pack abs makes it through the obstacle course on American Ninja Warrior, chances are you won’t be like them. Keep the weight off, all of it!
So What to Add to “Listen to Your NCOs?” (Part II)
When I got orders to go ship of to “Basic” on an officer’s track program, my veteran father, veteran grandfather, and recruiting officer gave me much advice on how to care for my feet, and implored me to break in my combat boots before getting to the base. There was also plenty of advice on not getting a sunburn as well as encouragement to do pushups, sit ups, and running. I was warned that the M1 Garand was a magical rifle whose weight increased to somewhere around “a ton” the longer you carried it. (I was never to carry an M1 Garand.)
What I now wish I’d also done is one additional thing – that is to work as an unpaid volunteer at the county prosecutor’s office. I wish now I’d have walked around the office in those unbroken-in combat boots making copies, stapling documents together, and filing legal stuff at the court house without pay but for solid gold experience.
I’d further tell my younger self, while in this hypothetical unpaid, legal internship making coffee and copies in the criminal justice system, to get on a prosecutor’s team that sends someone to jail. I’d specifically find a case where a totally likeable black thug who’d done something like point a revolver at his great aunt. What I mean about likeable here is a guy like that singer Pherrell, who is happy-happy-happy… I’d find a guy that talks in the most childlike, poetic, and funny American Negro Dialect. A guy that makes you smile and feel like a Big White Savior bringing the light of New England’s City on the Hill to the poor African that’s just about to turn his life around.
Why should one do this? For two deadly serious reasons. First, it is always easy to put away a white guy with a swastika tattoo on his face and with “love” and “hate” inked across his fingers. Nobody bothers to redeem those people. However, the white savior narrative is a very powerful enchantment and no matter how “redpilled” you think you are, you are still likely to think you can turn our happy, but accused Negro’s life. You might get tempted to work a deal, get the charges lessened, and just give the kid probation. You’ll tell yourself, he was “brought up wrong” but will “change when I tell him about values.”
In face-to-face contact in this situation, one will see the white savior narrative crumble. Something will happen, the accused will shoot his aunt while out on bail, or bash the face of his baby mamma, or stab another person, or he’ll get picked up for another, more serious crime. Might as well get disappointment over and let reality sink in of the fact that Africans and wrongdoing has a way of connecting while it doesn’t count as “on your watch.” I failed to put away a very likable black thug “on my watch” and the results were terrible.
Second, getting someone off to prison is a bit like sex, it’s a big deal the first time you do it, but easier afterwards. To be able to carry out justice in the face of unpleasantness is critical. If you let a criminal slide on the small things, they will eventually bring about a disaster somewhere else. The broken glass theory of crime prevention is true. Additionally, when you are in a position where it is your duty to punish wrongdoing, you inevitably get criticism that hurts. Nice, white church ladies that taught you lessons about the Bible in Sunday School will come down on you with genuine, moral fury. They’ll ask ‘How can YOU be so CRUEL and RACIST to that underprivileged kid?’ They’ll not understand your reasoning and claim that, ‘you don’t love Jesus and forgot about forgiveness.’ (I’ve seen this happen several times.) Helping prosecute someone as an intern will inoculate you from this nonsense. This experience will also steel yourself for when you need to do lesser things, like take a stripe from a family man and all around “great guy” for being drunk on the job and nearly running over some people with a forklift.
The Unpleasant Duty of Firing Someone
It is always best to not hire a person you’ll eventually need to fire. It is also a well-known thing that it is not a good idea to fire people so that you get surrounded by “yes men,” however if you are in authority, firing people comes with the territory. Firing is a tool like a chain saw, it is great in some circumstances, but in other circumstances it can become a danger. Don’t fire the guy that you don’t like because deep down you’re jealous that he’s usually right and “the way he says it” bugs you. I’d also take it easy on the guys that do strange things when they are just about to go to war like hide under the bed and cry or tremble on their cot for 24 hours convinced they’ll be hit by a SCUD missile. In those circumstance, give people space and they’ll come around. The following is rules for firing someone I’ve developed over two decades after a great deal of thought.
Before describing the rules there is a few things that need to be said. I’ve rarely seen any sort of Donald Trump “You’re Fired!” situation, where a person is sacked and then whisked away with their suitcase in a high end helicopter. In the military, or a government job, people that “get fired” really get moved from one position to another, only in criminal matters are military/government people truly shown the door. One guy decided I needed to fire I simply insulted for three straight days until he faked health problems and redeployed to the USA. I told you, this is unpleasant, but if he’d stayed on there would have been a disaster and I needed to do my duty with the tools available. In the civilian, corporate world, people get shown the door easier. In either case you must follow the law. Nothing below really applies to a layoff, which is a financial matter, but layoffs can help unload underperformers.
Fire ‘Em Rule 1: Misconduct
I’ll put it simply, get rid of guys committing crimes. Never miss an opportunity to fire someone involved in illegality. If you think a person doing something illegal, let everyone in authority with you know and call your legal department and the police. You aren’t the Lone Ranger. I even know of a church that quietly called the USAF’s Criminal Investigation Division on a crime-committing deacon who was in the military. The very world-wise minister didn’t offer counseling, turn the other cheek or what have you; he dropped a dime right away. While there are plenty of great stories about people “seeing the light” and “finding Jesus,” those guys usually have hurt a great many people along the way to their supposed redemption. You don’t need to be part of their trail of wreckage.
In a military circumstance, things like bar-fights, drunken rants to the Shore Patrol, and embarrassing incidents where a guy is in picked up by the First Sergeant at the local drunk-tank after some hooker stole his shoes and wallet should be discounted. Although the following is gray going on to black, I’d even recommend being calm about the clever orderly room clerk that, somewhat suspiciously, secured the stamp that allows end-of-tour awards to “clear Division” two weeks quicker. If someone in the military is arrested for crimes above that of “boys will be boys,” one simply follows procedures in the UCMJ and other guidance from the senior HQ.
If involved in a dangerous, technical job, with lots of procedures, such as flying aircraft – get rid of the corner-cutters, hot doggers, etc. A second chance for a habitual screw-up is never worth the burning wreckage on the runway. In the civilian world, you need to follow your company policy in addition to state law. Don’t get in a situation where your company is destroyed by an embezzler and you look back and realize that guy’d been not following a number of procedures for years.
Fire ‘Em Rule 2: Loss of Confidence
Loss of confidence is a tricky, highly subjective reason to fire. The problem with it is that you may be firing a good person that is just about to turn the corner to becoming excellent. After all, nobody becomes a master on their first day on the job. I told you this was unpleasant. You must fire for loss of confidence if you get the impression that someone doesn’t “get it,” and isn’t ever going to “get it.” Or if the guy isn’t going to “get it” in the time available. If possible, fire for loss of confidence if you think someone is headed into misconduct territory.
Fire ‘Em Rule 3: Someone Isn’t Following Your Vision
The final rule of firing is if someone in your organization is working against your leadership and vision. Mutinies usually have only one real mutineer. Once, in the corporate world, I was managing a program with four different subcontractor companies. One of the subcontractor company’s leader felt the entire contract should be his and worked against the other three companies. Additionally, I discovered that that company’s leader was leading a smear campaign against me and my immediate supervisor. When I realized who was behind the smear campaign I briefed the necessary parties on the situation, and I “fired them” by not renewing that company’s contract. Strangely, the mutineer didn’t see it coming, although he’d been causing problems from day one. This company’s employees actually were the best at the job, but without an active mutineer, most of my problems evaporated and the mission was accomplished.
Falling Apart With Free Enterprise
I’ve also had a front row seat in the collapse of a start-up company. Following that disaster, I wrote out a number of items that I felt contributed to the problem.
Problem 1: If you are a company president, your duty is to be the company president. Don’t go to every Small Business Roundtable Breakfast sponsored by the local branch of the Republican Party. Don’t spend all day organizing soup cans at the Roman Catholic Social Service’s food bank. These things are vanity. Should you fail to be present at work, problems that should never grow become monsters.
Related to that is the fact is the sorrowful truth of human nature that successful and ambitious people end up deeply resented by the peers they are leaving behind. This company president was unable to realize that the people he’d hitherto worked alongside in the industry went against him. They slandered his reputation with every potential client.
There is, of course, no way to stop someone from saying something bad about you, but if you avoid the appearance of impropriety, come into work every morning, make the best decision you can make, and adjust when necessary, the slander can be suppressed. If however, one isn’t at work, one doesn’t know what’s up. As mentioned above, there is usually really only one mutineer.
Problem 2: Don’t enter into an arrangement with a business partner who will eventually cheat you and cause the enterprise to fail. Unfortunately, there is no such ability to determine who will do this beforehand. However, it should be noticed that past performance usually indicates future performance. This business partner had convinced the company president to give his mistress the “break-up” notice when he decided to reconcile with his second wife a few years before they went into business together. Additionally, the partner was a veteran whose only war stories consisted of things like “telling off” the Sergeant Major who “thought” he was a crook. This guy often accused all others of being dishonest, and took an active interest in all swindles, scams, and scandals. Indeed, it takes a thief to catch a thief.
After the company fell apart I asked the company president why he entered into a partnership with a guy that was clearly so iffy. I never got an answer. Part of being successful company president is being a good judge of character and doing the unpleasant things needed after reviewing available data. Don’t hire a “crook” thinking you can control him or fire him easily later.
Problem 3: Don’t make decisions based on political correctness. In Corporate America there is all sorts of official pronouncements supporting political correctness. In reality though, when there is risk involving real money and real deadlines the pre-1960s rules apply. So, firing the experienced guy as the deadline approaches and replacing him with the obviously unqualified lesbian life partner of a scheming employee indicates a lack of judgement and disconnection from reality. After that occurred, the slander described above regarding the company president sounded true.
The employees of the company all landed on their feet, but the two men at the top had big career setbacks. The president moved to a different state and started a new career, the partner got divorced and taken to the cleaners after any incentive to be discreet about his affairs disappeared. In those matters it’s true the spouse is last to know. The partner’s reputation for integrity in his professional career was also destroyed and his opportunities dried up.
Those seeking to make it in the American free enterprise system work in a Darwinian, devil take the hindmost world. If you don’t keep your eye on the ball it can fall apart over the course of a weekend. Having some sort of authority appears to be fun. The mahogany desk, and high back chair looks good, but these trappings are a thin cover for serious unpleasant duties. However, it is the obligation of a competent moral person to seek these duties out for their society. Should a competent moral person not do so, an incompetent immoral person, or worse a competent immoral person will.
 Another goldmine for getting ideas about how to get people to do what you want is to listen to the recorded conversations of US President Lyndon Baines Johnson. This recommendation isn’t an endorsement of LBJ’s political views or his vulgar language, instead it is a great repository showing what a person must say to get powerful men with big egos to do what he wants.
 One thing people do before they ship off for war is talk to another soldier that is a perfect stranger about their life, their family, and what worries them. This phenomenon was shown in the 1962 movie The Longest Day. In such circumstances, hear the other fellow out no matter what the difference in rank you are to the other guy, unless it is interfering with your duties. Be discrete about what you hear too. You may very well find yourself blabbing on and on to a fellow soldier you just met too.
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