The phalanx was a rectangular military formation most well-known for being the preferred fighting tactic of Ancient Greek hoplites. The phalanx presented a wall of shields in the front ranks, with the first few ranks thrusting their spears out to project a porcupine-like exterior. Each hoplite had his shield locked with the man to his left, and was responsible for guarding his comrade’s exposed flank as much as he was responsible for covering himself. Many historians argue that those hoplites in the back ranks were responsible for pushing the entire formation forward, so that any opposition would be slowly, inexorably crushed under the unified phalanx.
Phalanxes worked only if all of the hoplites knew their role and performed with the fullest of effort. It helped, of course, when the individual soldiers engaged in combat believed in the cause they were fighting for. Most Americans might not recognize the word “phalanx,” but they’ve probably seen the 2007 movie 300 or pop culture references based on it, and would know what the phalanx is when they saw it even if they don’t know what that formation is called.
In that movie, Leonidas, king of the Spartans, turns down the misshapen wannabe hoplite Ephialtes, who is physically unable to lift his shield high enough to protect the man to his left. Ephialtes would later, in a fit of effeminate rage, betray the Spartans to the invading Persian King Xerxes, showing the Persians a hidden path behind the Spartan’s seemingly impenetrable position at the Gates of Thermopylae. This eventually led to the slaughter of Leonidas and his 300 warriors. Although they all died, they slowed down the Persians long enough, and inflicted such heavy losses, that Xerxes and his army were eventually beaten by the combined forces of the disparate Greek city-states.
Ephialtes was a real person; however, the image of him being a disfigured hunchback was a figment of 300 creator Frank Miller’s imagination. Coincidentally, the word “Ephialtes,” means “nightmare” in Greek.
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Nothing great is ever accomplished by people who just want to be left alone. Such people tend to not act unless something threatens their personal comfort, typically in the form of vice. They then agitate and do what it takes to allow themselves the freedom to pursue their vice with a free conscience. This is most easily achieved by degrading social mores, which is the equivalent of just changing the definition of something, so that the vice they wish to engage in is now legal, or at least widely accepted by people who don’t know any better.
“Wanting to be left alone” is also a poor rallying cry. Remember: 99 percent of people—you reading this, me writing this, the great mass of our human brethren—are inspired by appeals to emotion. These appeals are often couched in moral terms. This combination is the most effective and worthwhile when both emotional appeal and proposed morality are directed towards an objective, dialectical truth. That, and when the truth pointed to is a cause greater than any individual’s personal wants, needs, and desires.
Do you wonder why the United States used to actually win wars once upon a time? Because it believed in something.
This combination is the most destructive when the emotional appeal is effective, but the proposed morality is bad and based upon an objective lie.
What morality does “wanting to be left alone” point to? What emotions does “just let me do my own thing, man” appeal to besides selfishness and sloth?
What great victories have such attitudes achieved? It is one thing for the self-professed free man to warn about the evils of Soviet-style communism or the unholy alliance of government and industry. It is another for said person to do nothing about it when it happens.
Collectivism is not a dirty word. One of the worst tricks modern American “liberty” movements have played on well-meaning citizens with the best intentions is to convince wide swaths that anything directed towards a common societal good is “socialism,” and therefore bad. Married to this is the fear that using any sort of power, once achieved, in pursuit of some noble and socially beneficial aim, is similarly “socialism” and must never be done. Instead of “the collective” being thought of as “a group with common traits and similar aims,” it is conceptualized as an amorphous, zombie-like mass of Marx-reading Che Guevara t-shirt sporting Antifa morons who just want to loot and burn your local shopping mall because they “hate capitalism.”
Victory is off the table, permanently.
Worse, gigantic corporations are let off the hook entirely. For in conjunction with “the collective” and “societal good” being reflexively and unthinkingly derided, “the private sector” has been rendered so sacrosanct as to approach the level of godhood, never mind the fact that it is this same private sector which is doing the lion’s share of the censoring in the United States.
That was the big American innovation: privatizing oppression. We have a social credit system; it’s just not run by the government.
Refusing to band together, to organize, to pursue common aims that pull society towards that which is objectively good, beautiful, and true is not noble. It is not a sign of great intelligence. “Being above it all” style centrism is not a logical position, because horseshoe theory is wrong. “Both sides are just the same” is sloppy adolescent thinking, because it assumes that there are only two sides.
At the end of the day, as Benjamin Franklin famously put it to his fellow rebels, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” Do you think Jefferson and Adams and Madison and Monroe complained about the dangers of banding together to accomplish something?
Nothing can survive in a vacuum
No one can exist all alone
We pretend things only happen to strangers
We’ve all got problems of our own
— Rush, “Turn the Page
There is a reason writers like me who exist in this alternative, independent sphere are such a tight-knit group, yet always willing to accept fellow travelers who share our ethos and values and commitment to creating a parallel ecosystem that those dissatisfied with our current culture can escape to. We are not here to turn every member into an unthinking automaton brainwashed into mouthing our beliefs on the pain of death. We are a diverse lot, demographically and ideologically, who write in a variety of styles and aesthetics yet share the common purpose of weakening and then eventually destroying the beast system that currently controls our artistic culture.
Every man must guard himself and the man to his right. Alone, we will be gobbled up by the beast. Together, we stand a fighting chance.
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The phalanx formation worked remarkably well for the Greeks. This need for military unity is reflected in Homer’s Iliad. Why was the tide of the war against Troy turning against the Greeks when the story began? Because Achilles was acting like a little bitch over a dispute with King Agammemnon over a concubine. So Achilles sits and broods while the Trojans, led by their brave prince Hector, the Breaker of Horses, move from victory to victory.
Disunity among the ranks. Dissention and demoralization among their men. Heavy losses on the battlefield. All because Achilles could not freely indulge in his vice of choice.
Contra popular assumption, Achilles is not a hero in the Iliad.
So what did the Greeks in? It was not, as you may think, selfishness on the part of individual hoplites, for though the phalanx did rely on the collective, it was made up of discrete and unique individuals. No, the Greek’s great misfortune was that they ran into the Romans, who realized that swift-moving light infantry and cavalry proved effective against the phalanx.
Superior Roman tactics lost the day for the Greeks, but it is important to remember that the Romans, like the Greeks they sought to subdue, were still (a) acting in unified concert, and (b) believed in the cause they were fighting for, a cause greater than their own selfish personal interests.