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Be All You Can Be:
On Joining the Military

[1]4,352 words

You have asked me whether you should join the military. Given what I wrote [2], you wonder, does a racially conscious white male have any business in the armed forces? I cannot give you a definite yes or no, but I will share some of my observations after more than two decades of wearing the uniform.

Socrates was once asked a similar question by one of his students, Xenophon, and looking at their situation helps to shed light on the challenges and opportunities that await you. Lest I seem to be inviting comparisons between myself and the philosopher, let it be known that I’d much rather have Xenophon’s life.[1] [3] But we do have this much in common: multiple military deployments – my own to the Forever War in the Mideast, those of Socrates to Athens’ own endless war against Sparta. In the popular imagination, the dominant image of Socrates is akin to his portrayal in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure [4]: a paunchy old man, anachronistically wearing a Roman toga, asking unanswerable questions. According to Plato, however, the stonemason-turned-philosopher also served as a hoplite, the heavy infantry of his day, on at least three deployments during the Peloponnesian War. Two of these were to the distant theater of Chalcidice, and on a third he won particular acclaim for his actions at the Battle of Delium in 424 BC.[2] [5] These events occurrred when Xenophon was a mere child, and Athens surrendered before he had a chance to be at any decisive engagement.[3] [6] Three years later, however, he received a recruitment letter in the mail, so to speak, from his friend Proxenus.[4] [7] Xenophon was invited to join a mercenary expedition to Persia – an All-Volunteer Force, much like our own.

None of the soldiers serving in what history would remember as the March of the Ten Thousand were drafted or obligated to serve in any way, which makes the dynamics particularly relevant for us. And it is during times when one need not enter the military that doing so makes an especially powerful appeal to the adventurous-minded young man. Despite the ongoing emasculation of the modern military through gender-bending experiments and PC doublethink, military service remains the closest thing we have to a tribal rite of passage for young males. Take anyone you wish; once he has gone through boot camp and his initial training, he will return home with a different bearing and greater confidence. He has been put to the test, and the more severe that test has been, the greater the change will be.

Combat will be an even greater test. Although the war you fight in may be pointless or even immoral, the way you fight it will make all the difference to you, your descendants, and the God or Gods you follow. Although the modern world tries to deny it, our nature as men is innately bound up with death and the taking of life, just as women are tied to the giving and nurturing of life [8]. As Robert Heinlein said, “Fulfillment in life is loving a good woman and killing a bad man.” Having done both, I agree. If you feel this ancient pull strongly, consider joining the Marines or Army infantry, or the special forces of any service.

For Xenophon, seeing combat was not a possibility, but a certainty. Being of noble family, he would have been expected to serve as a cavalryman and provide his own war-horse at enormous personal expense. In any campaign inside Greece, he would have served as a scout, and also fought in the initial skirmishing before the phalanxes clashed. But on the plains of Mesopotamia, facing an enemy as strong in cavalry as the Persians were, it was imperative that he and his fellow cavalrymen helped to prevent the Greek infantry from being outflanked. His chances of coming back alive were no better than an infantryman’s. Although Xenophon does not say so, I suspect that Socrates had reservations about this promising young man joining what could be a fatal endeavor for him. Socrates had seen plenty of death in a war that cost Athens the lives of nearly a third of her citizens.

Today, by contrast, the majority of service members, even those deployed to our rather large “combat zones,” never see combat. Of course, there has always been a high ratio of support personnel to combat troops, but modern technology has made distance killing the norm. Faced with the political volatility of casualties, our political masters prefer to conduct drone strikes or launch cruise missiles – though this does little to change the situation on the ground. I’ve seen “nefarious” drivers of front-end loaders taken out by drones that were piloted by desk jockeys thousands of miles away, who clock out as soon as their shift is over and hit the gym. And the further removed people are from the actual fighting, it seems, the more they need to be told what great warriors they are. Everyone is “the tip of the spear” these days. You haven’t fully experienced the absurdity of the modern military until you’ve seen a guy who puts together PowerPoint presentations for a living refer to himself in this way. And he believes it, too.

But while the risk of death or wounding might be small compared to Xenophon’s day, it is still very real. There have been more than seven thousand American service members killed and over fifty thousand wounded [9] in our various adventures in the sandbox since 2001. And to what purpose? The mission of the deployment Xenophon wanted to join was to install Cyrus the Younger on the throne of Persia by ousting his older brother, Artaxerxes. In other words, regime change in the Middle East. Anyone enlisting today will find themselves part of the same endeavor, sans a clearly-defined mission or exit strategy, and subject to the whims and blunders of an army of bureaucrats rather than the inspired leadership of a man such as Cyrus.[5] [10] There is a chance, then, that you may die or be maimed in some shithole of a country for no other reason than that the natives don’t want you in their homeland. What a sad way for anyone – much less a proud descendant of a fair race – to end his life. At the very least, you will spend much time away from your own homeland and family “to seek another’s profit, and work another’s gain [11],” bringing the gifts of democracy, gender equality, and global capitalism to the benighted lands of Muspelheim [12]. The time I have spent on such fruitless deployments is something I can reckon in years, not months.

Plutarch relates an anecdote from when the Spartan king Agesilaus, during one of his frequent expeditions against the Thebans, was wounded in combat. A fellow Spartan, displaying that frankness toward kings which characterizes his polis, remarked, “What a wonderful teacher’s fee you are getting from the Thebans for having taught them to fight when they had no wish or ability to do so.” This, Plutarch explains, is why Lycurgus, the legendary founder of Sparta’s unique society, forbade frequent military campaigns against the same people, to prevent their becoming skilled in fighting.[6] [13] I fear that we, like Agesilaus, are giving many nations a great deal of profitable lessons, and at great cost to ourselves.

Unlike Xenophon, however, you will have the option of choosing a support field, if the challenge of combat is not your driving motivation. (Just realize that, unless you are sitting in an ICBM silo or monitoring strategic satellites, you will almost certainly deploy, and in many of these areas, the front lines start right outside the base’s gate.) A young white male should give some consideration to career fields that correspond to blue-collar skilled trades in the civilian world. That route is not something to be slighted, for it is going to be increasingly difficult for white males to make it past the diversity requirements for colleges and corporations. White-collar jobs, if they are not outright replaced by automation, will go to foreigners and non-white minorities who can claim they “enrich” the work force. In such a situation, as RamZPaul recently pointed out [14], there are still plenty of opportunities for white males to apprentice in the skilled trades, such as electrician, plumber, HVAC repair, civil engineering, and the like. There is an increasing need for people with such skills, and you would enjoy a better standard of living than the snowflakes churned out by our universities and saddled with debt. Should you wind up an independent contractor, you would be free from the diversity indoctrination that is par for the course in most companies. The military is a good place to start for this route, since your training will be at government expense and will apply toward a certification. And in any future ethnostate, there will be a great need for people with such skills.

When Xenophon sought his mentor’s guidance, Socrates’ initial response was that joining Cyrus’ expedition might create political complications for Xenophon back in Athens. As a satrap in Asia Minor, Cyrus had followed a pro-Sparta policy during the Peloponnesian War, and Athens would not have been thrilled by one of her scions helping to make him King. Such a prospect did not daunt Xenophon, who, like other members of Athens’ “Dissident Right,” had great admiration for Sparta. Years later, he would even accompany King Agesilaus against Athens at the Battle of Coronea.[7] [15] His exile, whether it preceded this act or followed it, opened up great opportunities for him, for he was able to enjoy a large estate under Spartan protection, and he was given an unparalleled outsider’s glimpse at Spartan training, which he captured for posterity.[8] [16]

As for today, there is no doubt that joining the military can involve a member of today’s Dissident Right in numerous political (and moral) complications, but as with Xenophon, that experience might also open up opportunities. First, the bad news. A host of regulations [17] restrict the political activity of service members, and these will put a damper on any plans to engage in such activity with like-minded people. Second, as a white male, you will be in a minority, albeit a substantial one: according to the military’s own figures [18], 44.5% of active-duty members of the armed forces are white, non-Hispanic males. While that is a higher percentage than the population as a whole, one has even less choice in the military than in the civilian world to choose one’s milieu. Here again, you can affect your chances somewhat by your choice of field. Enter a highly technical one, such as satellite operations, and you will be among more whites and Asians. Join the Marine Corps, and you will be among far more males, but experience scarcely less racial diversity. No matter what path you take, however, not only will you serve alongside people of all races, you will be housed with them – if not stateside, then on deployment. You will not be able to simply move away to a more distant suburb. The same street gangs that culturally enrich Los Angeles and Chicago perform the same service within the military [19].

More importantly, the very tone of the modern military is hostile to white males, something that Xenophon, living in an ethnostate, did not have to deal with. The prospect is even worse if you have any sort of affinity for traditional social values. As I pointed out [2], the military is not just opening up its ranks to people from all backgrounds and sexual orientations; it is actively recruiting them.[9] [20] True, there is a default respect in the military for hierarchy, but this very hierarchy seems hell-bent on tearing down identity, specifically white male identity. The bean-counters in the Pentagon are obsessed with increasing the racial and gender diversity in the ranks. Reading their annual reports [21] is a revealing glimpse at the mindset of people who are determined that the demographic replacement of whites in America be matched within the military ranks, at all levels.

These gentlemen work hand-in-glove with the commissars in charge of the notorious Equal Opportunity programs, which preach the new gospel of “diversity is our greatest strength.” These programs are none too subtle in suggesting that it is white males who are the problem: They are the past, and they are the perpetrators of all that threatens this blessed unity-in-diversity. Should you join, you will undergo periodic indoctrination sessions that stress – rather absurdly – both how open-minded the military is and how the full force of military justice will come down upon you should you ever veer from that course.

But if you can endure a foretaste of what awaits all Americans in a progressive totalitarian state, military service does offer advantages for aspiring leaders in our movement. If we are to have any political aspirations, either through entryism, a third party, or some combination of the two, having veteran status can go a long way for a political candidate. Outside the ranks of the antifa, there is a grudging respect for veterans even on the Left, and this experience need not be very salty.[10] [22] Speaking from personal experience, I can say that people treat you differently when you wear a hat identifying yourself as a war veteran. I don’t mean the “thank you for your service” accolades that sound fine coming from an old granny, but rather hollow coming from an able-bodied hipster. In our era of profound rudeness, most whites, at least, are a tad more circumspect in their negative comments about – and toward – veterans. It makes no difference whether they are neocon flag-wavers who fully endorsed John McCain or progressives who lament the wars that Bush began. One side invests soldiers with sainthood, the other with martyrdom. Either way, there is a widespread respect for military service in America which we would be fools to ignore.

I have met people who, perhaps influenced by Heinlein [23], fantasize that in a profound breakdown of society, the ranks of the military would somehow provide the needed order. Xenophon’s own expedition experienced just as dramatic a collapse in leadership. When the Ten Thousand achieved their own “Mission Accomplished” at the Battle of Cunaxa, their victory proved as fleeting as that of Bush the Younger [24] (or the Elder, for that matter). Although they had acquitted themselves well on the battlefield, Cyrus the Younger died in the fighting, and with him all their hopes for success. Then, through the subterfuge of a parley, the Persians captured and executed the entire senior leadership of the Greek army.[11] [25] So now, thousands of miles from home, surrounded by enemy forces and a hostile population, the Greeks faced the daunting prospect of having to fight their way home. In the resulting leadership vacuum, junior leaders like Xenophon had the opportunity to rise to the top and prove their fitness to command.

But Xenophon’s military was an army on the march; men who, while they came from many different poleis, had a common background and shared values in comparison with the patchwork quilt of ethnicities all around them. What can be said of the Ten Thousand cannot be said of our Two Million [26]: when we deploy, we are more akin to the polyglot army of Xerxes, amassed from all races of the Earth, fighting those to whom tribal, ethnic, and religious identity still matter.

Many people have an image of the military gleaned from movies or their Uncle Bob’s stories. But today’s armed forces, being voluntary, are not only self-selecting, but self-culling. You might call it the survival of the most politically correct. During the Obama administration, there was a quiet but significant exodus of more traditional Christians [27] from the military ranks as a result of the legalization of open homosexuality and a clampdown on Christianity [28].[12] [29] Trump’s election has done nothing to change the atmosphere within the ranks, in which feminists, homosexuals, and minorities flourish, and a straight white male’s only hope is to be completely cucked. Junior enlisted members and young officers may not have fully drunk the Kool-Aid, but there’s less and less need for them to do so: Thanks to popular culture, they’ve been raised on it.

So I see no reason to believe that in any future social collapse or crisis, the military would somehow become a bastion of white identity. After many years of being conditioned by progressive ideology, the vast majority of servicemen prove rather docile when it comes time for the next experiment in social engineering.[13] [30] The reflexive training that characterizes the modern military has resulted in a kind of Orwellian duckspeak [31] when it comes to diversity. Not toeing the line, after all, simultaneously jeopardizes one’s pension, one’s health care, and all the rest of the impressive socialist benefits the US military enjoys. Outright disobedience can lead to a dishonorable discharge and a lifetime of difficulty finding employment; worse yet, it can end at Leavenworth [32].

But if I am not sanguine about the military qua military performing any beneficial role for us in a social collapse, I do think individual veterans have an important role to play in our movement. These men have seen the failures of globalism on a truly epic scale, and have an enviable fund of experiences and skills on which to draw. Having fought both the Varsity and JV teams [33] of Islam, they will be less likely to flinch at the antifa’s men-without-chests. And they will have a more practical frame of mind, providing a needed balance to some of the loftier notions that captivate men’s imaginations but seldom put their hands to work. One notices such a contrast when comparing Xenophon’s Socrates to Plato’s: the soldier of fortune presents his teacher as far less interested in epistemology than with self-discipline, much more certain about what constitutes virtue, and quite ready to defend the morality of harming one’s enemies.[14] [34] Here is the hoplite who mounted guard during the Thracian winter and stood his ground at Delium.

So what did Socrates advise Xenophon? He told him to journey to Delphi and consult the Oracle. But the young man cleverly asked the Oracle not whether he should go or stay behind, but rather to which of the Gods he should offer prayer and sacrifice in order for his endeavor to be a successful one. When Socrates learned that his pupil had merely asked for the Gods’ blessing, he was not pleased. Presented with a religious fait accompli, however, he had no choice but to go along: Xenophon’s Socrates is far more certain about the Gods.[15] [35]

If he had died at Cunaxa, or at the hands of the Kurds on the return march, Xenophon would not even be a name in a footnote. Instead, he faced more challenges than he could have imagined and overcame them, then retired to the life of a country gentleman. He went on to write an account of the expedition, along with a treatise on Spartan society, and other works on history, politics, philosophy, economics, tactics, hunting, and horsemanship, all of which are held in high esteem.[16] [36] In fact, I think a future ethnostate could do worse than to have a Xenophontian academy to train young men of both action and thought.

Ultimately, this is how I think you should frame the question: Would it strengthen our movement for you to join the military? I cannot give you a definite answer, because I don’t know the specifics of your situation. There are many young men I would advise to stay well clear of the military, for their talents can be better used elsewhere. But others might end up acquiring just the sort of confident voice and depth of experience that we need. Would Xenophon have been the same man had he never gone on his ill-fated mission to the Middle East? Or would Socrates have been the same man, and faced death the same way, had he not been a hoplite? Both Plato and Xenophon suggest not.

I return to that moment when the leaders of the Ten Thousand had been murdered, and the de facto leaders gathered in the night to discuss the army’s plight. They were over a thousand miles’ march inside enemy territory; they had no guides; their native supporters had disappeared; they had no cavalry; and they were surrounded by millions of people hostile to them. Many of the Greeks were panicking, and Xenophon freely relates a nightmare that his father’s house was burning, which he feared meant there would be no escape.[17] [37] But when it was Xenophon’s turn to speak at the informal council, he gave many good pieces of advice, one of which applies to our work in rousing our Folk today:

But if we can change their minds, if we can get them to think, not “What is going to happen to me?” but “What action am I going to take?” what a rise in their spirits there will be.[18] [38]

Whatever your decision may be, let it be yours, and may it work toward the goal of creating a civilization that recalls the best of Xenophon’s.

Ash Donaldson is a veteran of the war against ISIS – the Muslim group, that is, not the goddess. A refugee from academia, he lives in exile somewhere in the Midwest. His most recent book is From Her Eyes a Doctrine, a dystopian novel of America’s future. He is also the author of Blut and Boden: A Fairy Tale for Children of European Descent, and the sequel, A Race for the North. See more on Preservation of Fire [39].


[1] [40] I’ve also been rather critical of Socrates elsewhere. See Europa Sun, No. 4, “Front Row Seats to Civilization’s End.”

[2] [41] This comes from the Apology (28d-29a), the Symposium (219e-221c), and the Laches (181b). Historians are inclined to believe Plato, and I also see little reason to doubt him on this score, since he would know such claims could be easily refuted and undermine the points he was trying to make.

[3] [42] Historians variously place his birth anywhere from 431 to 427 BC. I incline toward the later date, since during a key discussion on the expedition in 401 BC, he addresses the idea that he might be too young to replace Proxenus, who was 30 when he was treacherously slain. See Xenophon’s Anabasis, 2.6.20, 3.1.13, and 3.1.25.

[4] [43] Xenophon’s account of his enlistment is given in the Anabasis, 3.1.4-8.

[5] [44] Xenophon’s admiration is clear from the chapter he dedicates to Cyrus’ character in the Anabasis, 1.9, and from the mirror of princes he models on Cyrus, the Cyropaedia.

[6] [45] Plutarch, Apophthegmata Laconica 213f. Translation by author.

[7] [46] Xenophon, The Landmark Xenophon’s Hellenika, ed. Robert B. Strassler, xviii. Xenophon even wrote a book on household management and agriculture, the Oeconomicus. It is available in the Penguin volume of Xenophon’s Conversations of Socrates.

[8] [47] This work is available as an appendix to the Penguin volume Plutarch on Sparta.

[9] [48] This is especially pronounced among females, where the number of lesbians is quite striking. As for the much-touted ban on transgender personnel [49], which went into effect in April 2019, it is anything but. It expires in less than a year, grandfathers those already in service, and allows waivers for anyone else. (The main sticking point is actually money, since the generous military health plan covers sexual reassignment surgery).

[10] [50] Witness the career of Pete Buttigieg, who as a Navy intelligence officer had a basic training consisting of a two-week, laid-back “fork and knife” school, then went about his merry way as a reservist. After a six-month stint in Afghanistan [51] in a “Threat Finance Cell” and a few choice poses with an M-4, he was presented to the public as a cross between Rambo and Henry Kissinger. Tulsi Gabbard, a Major in the Hawaii National Guard, also capitalizes [52] on her military service, which she was able use to much advantage in her stinging shut-down [53] of Tim Ryan during the Democratic debates. Neither one was in a combat branch of their respective services. Anyone not in the military should be wary when someone uses the term “combat zone”: today it encompasses virtually the entire Middle East [54], including countries where service members’ greatest concern is taking Latin dance lessons or tanning by the pool during their abundant free time.

[11] [55] Xenophon, Anabasis, 2.5, 2.6.

[12] [56] Don’t get the notion that it was all Obama’s fault. As my earlier piece makes clear, this transformation has been a long time coming.

[13] [57] The popular notion that the military is a bastion of conservativism is largely an illusion. It may have been true in the 1980s, but times have changed. Not only has the military become more racially diverse, with all that entails for political orientation, but years of legally-enforced tolerance have created a general indifference toward social morality. When my unit was briefed on the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” nearly ten years ago, the senior officer who came from on high began the question-and-answer period this way: “Any questions are welcome, provided they don’t involve morality.” True, in the 2016 Presidential Election, those in uniform favored Trump to Clinton by a near two-to-one margin [58], but that has much to do with the fact that the military is 84% male. Given a viable alternative, these same voters vastly prefer a libertarian option. In 2012, political donations by servicemen to the Ron Paul campaign were more than to all other candidates, Democrat and Republican, combined [59], and as late as September during the 2016 campaign, Gary Johnson polled dead-even with Trump [60] among military members. The data tallies with my personal experience: Most service members want a strong military, but one that is used less frequently and on less dubious missions; all other issues quickly recede in importance.

[14] [61] On this last point, contrast Crito 49a-d with Philebus 49d. For a general overview of these differences, see the introduction to Xenophon, Conversations of Socrates, published by Penguin.

[15] [62] He argues against atheism at length in Memorabilia 1.4 and for the Gods’ active benevolence in 4.3.

[16] [63] His work On Horsemanship is still respected by equestrians. While his principal work of history, the Hellenica, may not be of Herodotean or Thucydidean caliber, without it we would have only the vaguest notion of what happened between 411 and 362 BC. The Landmark Xenophon’s Hellenika is a handsome edition with extensive maps and notes to aid the reader.

[17] [64] Anabasis, 3.1.

[18] [65] Anabasis, 3.1.41. Translation by author.