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Who’d have thought it? Soldiers are Right-wing

No kimchi-eating Centrist Dads in sight. Credit: YouTube

September 8, 2023 - 6:00pm

Charlie Higson’s new Bond novel On His Majesty’s Secret Service provoked incredulity and scorn last week, for depicting Bond as a kimchi-eating Centrist Dad and the villain as the Ukipper-on-steroids “Aethelstan”. This in turn prompted a flurry of debate about whether a woke Bond is plausible. Meanwhile, reports this week of a PTSD camp for veterans seemingly operated by the real-world “Aethelstan” offer a tantalising counterargument. 

PTSD Camp Bath is a rehab retreat for combat veterans based on a Somerset farm. Reports allege that the farm’s owners, Jo and Dion Drayson, have links to Darren Edmundson, an activist for Patriotic Alternative, an anti-immigration group originating in the BNP and often found at protests against asylum-seeker housing. Other than this, the most substantive allegation seems to be that the Draysons hold deprecated opinions. On Facebook Dion, himself a 3 Para-veteran and former Ukip candidate, criticises Covid vaccines, war-crime prosecution of veterans, 5G masts, and Muslim ritual slaughter: all the views, in other words, that prompted ex-Kipper and Right-wing microparty leader David Kurten to hail the fictional Aethelstan as a “top bloke”. 

The military, civil, and intelligence services are of course not all the same thing. This recent report is flimsy, and nothing illegal is afoot. But the inference from the political opinions leaking out around PTSD Camp Bath is that however woke Britain’s mandarins may or may not now be, at least some of the British military still very much is not. 

This makes sense. The radical progressive worldview starts from a belief that we can make the world a better place by abolishing hierarchy, ending violence, and transcending the constraints of material reality. But it’s difficult to be a soldier unless you embrace clear-sighted pragmatism, a hierarchical chain of command, and a willingness to use violence. 

And leaving aside the fictional example of Bond, this raises an intriguing question for how a regime premised on the progressive programme can consolidate and sustain power in the real world. For one constant of stable political regimes is that this stability is underwritten, somewhere in the background, by the presence of large men with weapons. Even if they mostly don’t use them, their presence is essential: no independent state can survive long without a capacity to make credible threats of force. 

But is it possible both to recruit the forces required to make such a threat, while also embracing an ideology that views the whole paradigm of military force as immoral? The military recruitment crises visible in standing armies on both sides of the Atlantic suggest the attempt to do so is already creating structural problems. If your regime burnishes its moral credentials by attacking patriotism, while also relying on it to inspire recruits for the army that underwrites that regime’s stability, something will have to give eventually. 

My guess is that what will give is progressivism. It’s possible, I suppose, that the woke might relinquish power rather than give up the commitment to anti-hierarchical progressive pacifism. But it’s more plausible that the ideology will be lightly retooled, in the interests of maintaining power, so as to be less repellent to the kind of men who typically form a state’s enforcers of last resort. Indeed, the Western progressive order’s full-throated embrace of the current American forever war suggests that perhaps they already have.  


Mary Harrington is a contributing editor at UnHerd.

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Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
10 months ago

Ah, soldiers tend not to be progressive. I’m truly shocked by this revelation. Next you’ll tell us that college professors tend to be progressive high minded intellectuals who are out of touch with the harsher realities of the world and who conveniently proselytize their pseudo-religions with no regard for the consequences because someone else has to deal with those. Again, the military recruitment problems are relevant here. Why should they worry if the implications of their obviously correct philosophies impose hardships on others or compromise everyone’s safety. Obviously if everyone believed rightly and correctly there would be no problem. Russia invades Ukraine and suddenly everybody forgets about that, and about how unprogressive the Ukrainians themselves are. The anti-military anti-violence wing of the progressive movement will doubtless be strained by the rise of a Russo-Chinese axis. Unfortunately, as Champagne Socialist points out, the progressive movement is not merely a campaign against war, violence, and authority in general. It is far broader, more complex, and more insidious than that. Napoleon, Mao, and Stalin, could all be described as ‘progressive’ in terms of pushing social and cultural change for the betterment of humanity. I consider it a saving grace of western progressivism that it does include such a strong pacifist bent. Let’s hope they never lose that element. A progressive movement that tolerates the use of brute force to enforce compliance with their beliefs is gravely dangerous. It is not something to be casually dismissed.

Waffles
Waffles
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

This is an incredibly insightful article on the damage done to the USA from prioritising diversity over competence. The same applies to the UK. https://www.palladiummag.com/2023/06/01/complex-systems-wont-survive-the-competence-crisis/

John Riordan
John Riordan
10 months ago

“The radical progressive worldview starts from a belief that we can make the world a better place by abolishing hierarchy, ending violence, and transcending the constraints of material reality.”

Is this a balanced representation of that belief system or a sceptical parody of it? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sceptic where the madness of Progressivism is concerned, it’s just that if I wanted to summarise it in a single sentence while exposing how daft Progressivism is, this is how I’d do it.

You abolish hierarchy by establishing meritocracy. You end violence by talking soft while waving a big stick. You transcend the constraints of material reality by creating abundance. Since these three measures are what Progressives instinctively oppose, what are we to make of this summary of Progressivism?

Last edited 10 months ago by John Riordan
Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
10 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

“Since these three measures are what Progressives instinctively oppose”
That’s what you think progressives oppose. Completely divorced from reality of course!

John Riordan
John Riordan
10 months ago

It’s not what I “think” progressives oppose. It is what has become obvious in every debate I’ve ever had with any progressive when it comes down to it. If it’s not what Progressives really believe then maybe they should learn to epxress themselves better, but having read some of your replies I doubt that’s a realistic expectation.

Last edited 10 months ago by John Riordan
Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
10 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

“they should learn to epxress themselves better,”
This is great!

John Riordan
John Riordan
10 months ago

Your ideological position now rests upon my typo.

Yes, this really is great!

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
10 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Don’t flatter yourself, kiddo.
I just enjoy the humour of you “epxressing” yourself in such typical way!

John Riordan
John Riordan
10 months ago

No, you just haven’t got any substantive arguments and are reduced to childish worldplay. I’m not flattering myself, your inability to form a rational thought is entirely your own failure.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
10 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

You think your rambling word salads are substantive arguments? That’s so cute!
John seems to be of the “everyone gets a prize” category of student who has been told his “ideas” have merit when in fact they are simply the regurgitation of the garbage he picks up on the incel sites he loves so much.
I’ve wasted more than enough time on him.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
10 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Too much champagne, too little socialism.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
10 months ago

Too little champagne, too much socialism

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
10 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

“You abolish hierarchy by establishing meritocracy. You end violence by talking soft while waving a big stick. You transcend the constraints of material reality by creating abundance.”
The first one sound like JS Mill and classical liberalism. Or Napoleon.

T Bone
T Bone
10 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

It also needs to be pointed out that all variants of Marxist Progressivism rely on a dialectical process of inductive not deductive reasoning.

They aren’t doing empirical analysis, they jump straight from Theory to Praxis, get a reaction that produces an end result and then try to remediate the errors.

Theory: Defund the Police
Praxis: Relentless Agitation
Result: Massive upticks in street crime like auto theft and looting.
New Theory: Auto manufacturers and buildings aren’t properly secured.
Praxis: Mass Lawsuits against Auto manufacturers and landlords
Result: Higher Costs
New Theory: Higher Public sector wages, more subsidies and expansion of welfare programs.
Etc
Etc

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
10 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

No. I say that the progressives believe that they can abolish injustice with politics. But politics cannot escape the binary of smashing its enemies and larding up its supporters with loot. So it always fails.
Human culture and religion and cooperation and community are multidimensional. Politics is binary.

Last edited 10 months ago by Christopher Chantrill
Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
10 months ago

At the end of the day, Progressives are at war with human nature itself. Liberal (meaning libertarian or classically liberal) democracy (meaning, at the very least, democratic elections, and constitutionally or legally untouchable civil rights & liberties) can and for centuries have worked quite well alongside human nature, as have capitalist free markets.
Progressive governance requires heavy state controls, and the oppression of the individual, “for the greater good.” For those reasons, progressive policies are always subject to politics, always make problems worse, and always end in disaster.
If it were otherwise, Venezuela and East Germany – both incorporated policies nearly identical to progressive ideologies – would’ve been smashing successes.
They weren’t, clearly.

Last edited 10 months ago by Andrew Vanbarner
Dylan Blackhurst
Dylan Blackhurst
10 months ago

Soldiers live and die to protect societies that in turn can create conditions where intellectuals can come up with daft theories like post modernism, progressivism etc.

The painful irony of it all.

Rob N
Rob N
10 months ago

Strong men create good times etc is so true.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
10 months ago

There is something fishy going on here for the state to mobilise the British media to such an extent with regard to involving the public in a prison escape.
It resembles a little the mediatised Jan 6 information operation over in the US. Elsewhere making the news this weekend, the UK’s Prevent strategy is reported to have listed the names of popular right-wing commentators who, presumably, are to be taken as equivalent ‘enemies of the state’ and this has now brought comment from the UK parliament.
That said, I believe this publication has not been so different in publicising if not promoting the Ukrainian government’s listing of war critics as ‘Russian propagandists’ (Gabbard, Rand etc). What counts then is the extent that the information war is penetrating everyday life in terms of how domestic events are spun.

John S
John S
10 months ago

“Freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it.”
– Pericles.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
10 months ago

I’m afraid our progressive leaders find it impossible to contemplate that not everyone around the world thinks like them. Even after the invasion of Ukraine, they still fondly imagine that, at some point, Putin will succumb to reasoned argument.

William Edward Henry Appleby
William Edward Henry Appleby
10 months ago

Kimchi? Pah!
“Green figs; yoghurt; coffee, very black”
https://clip.cafe/from-russia-with-love-1963/breakfast-one-at-nine/t/1/

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
10 months ago

Figs and yoghurt for breakfast?!?!? All sounds a bit woke to me! And coffee instead of tea? Its like James Bond isn’t even English at all!

William Edward Henry Appleby
William Edward Henry Appleby
10 months ago

Bond’s in Turkey and he likes to sample the local fare. As for not being English, you’re correct: he’s half Scottish, half Swiss-French.

Matt M
Matt M
10 months ago

Bond’s (and Ian Fleming’s) favourite breakfast was buttery scrambled eggs on toast. It is mentioned in several books and also in Fleming’s travel writing. In one book there is actually a recipe given which is almost equal amounts of butter and eggs! Sounds pretty good to me.

Jürg Gassmann
Jürg Gassmann
10 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Quite.
Check out Ian Fleming’s “Thrilling Cities”

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
10 months ago

All sounds a bit Remainer-y to me.
I bet Nigel Farage wouldn’t indulge any of that foreign muck. Full English and a pint of best for him!

William Edward Henry Appleby
William Edward Henry Appleby
10 months ago

Probably Nigel wouldn’t, but then I doubt he’s waiting by the ‘phone for the Bond casting director’s call either.

Are you a chat-bot? Your posts have a ChatGPT flavour about them.

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
10 months ago

Perhaps just brainless waffle?

Rob N
Rob N
10 months ago

Though he only got the Scottish link after Sean Connery took on the role. Before then Fleming only thought of him as English.

Gerry Quinn
Gerry Quinn
10 months ago

Bond has always despised tea – at least the author gets this right!

Glynis Roache
Glynis Roache
10 months ago

George Orwell seems to be quoted more frequently than ever, so :  ‘People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.’
   And then these ‘rough men’ end up in a PTSD camp on a farm near Bath. Why? 
 It seems to me that this is the important question – not whether or not the ‘forces’ are right wing in principle, but have  certain political attitudes affected the ability of the individuals therein to do their job? To an extent, civilisation per se has already done that. As a species, we are recognised to be the result of evolution. And simplistically put, evolution is a dog eat dog business. Yet now, civilisation and developing ethics increasingly overlay the purely instinctive. The rules of engagement become ever more stringent, backed up by legal action against individuals. Moreover, prospective soldiers are reared in a zeitgeist that loudly condemns violence of any sort and where even inappropriate speech is deemed offensive and psychologically damaging. In short, those ‘rough men’ are programmed to be less and less rough. The result has to be managed somehow. 
  The current informed opinion seems to be that killing in combat for a psychologically normal individual is bearable only if he or she is able to distance themselves from their own actions. And training and the terminology used in training reflect this. I very much doubt that this was the case for Vikings. In my opinion, for a soldier to do what he has to do now requires a much greater level of mental compartmentalisation than it has ever done. Or a fuller mental integration – if you’re of a Jungian bent.
   For me, the politics per se of the people who run the ‘farm’ are important only in the way they affect the rehabilitation methods they use and their opinions on why the necessity for rehabilitation is apparently increasing. I would like to see a deeper article on this.

Jürg Gassmann
Jürg Gassmann
10 months ago

If your regime burnishes its moral credentials by attacking patriotism, while also relying on it to inspire recruits for the army that underwrites that regime’s stability, something will have to give eventually. 

Unfortunately, no – as is modelled by the regimes of European absolutism, rulers solve the problem by hiring mercenaries.
Prigozhin may have suffered a tragic workplace accident, but so far as I know Eric Prince is alive, well, and open for business.

starkbreath
starkbreath
9 months ago

Not just their unquestioning support for Ukraine but their acceptance of the mindless destructiveness of the Antifa hordes and their increasing reliance on the state to enforce their diktats, e.g. Michigan HB 4474, California’s new parental custody laws and the use of British police to prosecute people for something they posted online. And the recent attempts by Coutts, PayPal and GoFundMe to economically paralyze people with the wrong type of beliefs. All the theorizing and virtue signaling is nothing but window dressing, what these malignant sociopaths want is power over every aspect of our lives.

j watson
j watson
10 months ago

Hmm…’radical progressive worldview’, what exactly does the Author mean? A bit like the use of Woke there is something there but the vaguer and less specific the easier to chuck around willy nilly under the guise of some pseudo-sociological theory. There’s a sense a bit of all this is ‘straw-man’ stuff so some folks can huff and puff to their hearts content.
Breaking it down – if the Author adds ‘radical’ – how does she differentiate from a non radical ‘progressive worldview’? Or is any progressive view radical? What does she and others even mean by Progressive? Beyond a bunch of students still growing into adulthood, perhaps a few EDI wackos, and the far out echo chamber activists all political parties tend to attract on their edges who does she mean? How many of these folks does she meet out in the part of rural Britain she resides or is it all in cyberspace?
As regards soldiers being Right wing, having been in Forces myself yes I think if one could poll it they would generally be more to the Right than Left, on some things for sure. But their sense of the power of ‘collective’ much more enhanced. Patriots can certainly be Left and Right.

Last edited 10 months ago by j watson
Dominic A
Dominic A
10 months ago
Reply to  j watson

“There’s a sense a bit of all this is ‘straw-man’ stuff so some folks can huff and puff to their hearts content.”

A bit? It’s elementary my dear Watson. Those enhabiting the woke, anti-woke polar areas would be in existential crisis without their splitting caracitures to fill the void.

Kieran P
Kieran P
10 months ago

I’d posit that the advent of autonomous weapons systems is going to eliminate the need for ‘large men with guns’.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
10 months ago

“The radical progressive worldview starts from a belief that we can make the world a better place by abolishing hierarchy, ending violence, and transcending the constraints of material reality”
Where do you people come up with this rubbish?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
10 months ago

Sounds spot-on to me. There certainly seems to be a progressive reluctance to accept any real-world constraints on the possibility of attaining utopia. But if you have an alternative explanation, by all means share it.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
10 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

“alternative explanation’
Explanation for what? Maybe try explaining your word salad?

Arthur G
Arthur G
10 months ago

Explanation for the utter irrationality of progressive policies.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
10 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

Do any of you people actually understand English?

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
10 months ago

No, I don’t speak a word.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
10 months ago

And thereby proving my point.
You don’t understand a thing!

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
10 months ago

Where do you people come up with this rubbish?
Generation upon generation of left-wing writers and intellectuals.

Arthur G
Arthur G
10 months ago

We listen to what progressives say and watch what they do.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
10 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

Why don’t you provide a couple of examples, slick?

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
10 months ago

Postmodernism, you clown.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
10 months ago

It’s Herbert Marcuse, Judith Butler, Michel Foucault and all of the other intellectual charlatans who came up with this fraudulent worldview. But well said dear Champagne Socialist, it is rubbish.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
10 months ago

I’ve read so many comments from CS and I still have no idea what he stands for. I’ve never seen a substantive idea uttered under his pseudonym. Maybe it’s one of the censorious thugs who run this comment section.

starkbreath
starkbreath
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Nah, just a typical modern ‘progressive’: mindless attachment to the insanity promulgated by the cult he belongs to, with no substantive arguments underpinning any of it, hence the incessant ad hominem attacks.