On March 21 in the Polite Society Podcast, Paul Lathrop went on a rant about he disagrees with the concept of Sheep, Sheepdogs and Wolves.  I happen to agree and not only agree, I think that the works of  Dave Grossman are excellent but targeted to Law Enforcement and Military, not to the regular civilian that carries a gun for self-protection. That does not mean that there is stuff in his books that it does not apply or that we can learn from, but we are not warriors.

And that brings me to my personal peeve of the somewhat “cultish” admiration for the Knight and the Samurai. I think that as armed civilians we could have not chosen worst examples to “follow” and let’s start with this crap:

I am sorry but I do not “accept” death. I carry a gun and have gone through training and changed my head-in-the-clouds lifestyle because I do not want to be either harmed or killed by a Yakuza burakumin . I do understand that in a confrontation with a criminal, Death can happen to me as I am not perfect, but understanding the consequences and accepting it as fait accompli and making it part of my lifestyle are two very different things. If I were to accept Death, why would I even care to have a gun or prepare myself? The same goes for the Knight who would cheerfully die in battle doing the King’s business according to what they call honor.

Yes, you complain that both had a stick honor code that protected small children, puppies and enjoyed sunsets walking on the beach , but the reality is that both the Samurai and the Knight were pricks. Both were enforcers for a King or Daymo, they obtained riches by bloody enforcement of the rules or orders of their superiors and considered anybody under them at best a nuisance that could be hacked to pieces without fear of legal retribution. Best way for a commoner to lose his head? Somehow insult a Samurai or a Knight and see a flash of steel and a close shave to the trachea. Even the in Le Morte d’Arthur, we see how the most celebrated Knights in history have no issue slicing and dicing some unarmed commoners because they complained they were not doing their jobs. If you think about it, both behaved pretty much like what we today call Organized Crime.

The romanticism associated with these two baffles me as a civilian.  I don’t even think that our Military and LEO should consider them role models as their aim was subjugation of the lower classes and the defense of the kingdom against other pricks like them instead of liberation and protecting the People because their lives and liberty were valuable on its own and not because the Higher-Ups were worried about loss of income from taxes. And even then, the “acceptance” of Death should be eschewed or as General Patton said so succinctly: “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.”

So who do Civilians should seek as role model? My very own choice (yours may vary) is the Pioneer/Homesteader: Somebody who wanted to live his life doing his work without interfering with others, but ready to lay down firepower to defend his family and his land from those who wish them harm.

Never start a fight; but always finish it.


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By Miguel.GFZ

Semi-retired like Vito Corleone before the heart attack. Consiglieri to J.Kb and AWA. I lived in a Gun Control Paradise: It sucked and got people killed. I do believe that Freedom scares the political elites.

32 thoughts on “The warrior mystique and its non-application to the average citizen.”
  1. Applause.gif

    Echoes many of my thoughts, Miguel.

    I’m not armed to get into a fight, I’m armed to get OUT of a fight as rapidly/decisively as possible.

    And if I wanted to be a Knight, I’d still be in uniform.

  2. My take is, I’m a citizen who is under arms for defense of self and others. I’m not a ‘tactical operator operating tactically’ or any other Walter Mitty BS. Keeping a sense of perspective is part of the package.

  3. +1 on the Pioneer/Homesteader as a model. I am reading a biography of David (“Davy”) Crockett, a man of the wild American frontier who eventually went to Congress, then to Texas to die for his country in the Alamo. Even in that last act, Crockett was a subscriber to the “I just want to live, so leave me the heck alone; if you attack me, I will come at you shooting” philosophy.

  4. It’s some kind of Zen plus Shinto thing where you’re already dead and this life is merely transitory.

    Be willing to die rather than see your loved ones die.
    Be maimed rather than die
    Be injured rather than be maimed.
    And from there back up to run away, or negotiate.

    Is your opponent willing to go as far as you are? Be willing to go farther than him.

    Be willing to kill your opponent, but don’t go in search of death. Death will find you in time.

    1. “It’s some kind of Zen plus Shinto thing where you’re already dead and this life is merely transitory.”

      Shinto never had to deal with the IRS

        1. It’s now 2017 and he’s been in the news because of his nomination to Secretary of Defense, so you’ve probably learned this already, but…

          That’s a General James “Maddog” Mattis quote:


          I’m a pretty liberal, left-leaning guy, but I also believe in gun ownership and that civil rights include gun rights*.

          I’m also very pragmatic. I haven’t made a deep study of Mattis’s career, but people who get freaked out by that quote don’t grasp the fundamental concept of a soldier. Also, another Mattis quote, my favorite, from his congressional testimony:

          “If you don’t fully fund the State Department, then I have to buy more ammunition.”

          The man gets it, on more than one level.

          (* But within reason; free speech doesn’t give you the right to yell “fire!” in a crowded theater, and we got along just fine in this country for a couple hundred years with equally reasonable limitations on gun rights. But I don’t mean to side-track this topic, just to be up front about where I’m coming from.)

  5. I wholeheartedly agree with you.

    As for a hero to emulate,not worship mind you, emulate, when I was a very young boy, I saw a movie that gave me that hero.
    It starred Gary Cooper. Of course I mean Sgt. York. I still consider him my personal hero.

    1. Wholeheartedly agree. Alvin York….there are vast numbers of worse role models a person could have, and very few of the same caliber or better.

  6. My biggest problem with the sheepdog concept is that it leaves out the most important player: the shepherd.

    The pioneer homesteader was effectively a sovereign citizen.

  7. Knights and Samurai I knew from the onset were shitty role models. I preferred the frontiersman.

  8. I’m a bit more partial to the ideal of the old Citizen Soldier from the old Greek Demios or Roman Republic. An ideal still found with the Swiss, but sadly lost in the US since the founding. That free citizens possesed arms, and would turn out of their own free will to defend their families and property against invaders.

    Then again, when you think about it, pretty much the frontier ideal.

  9. There’s another “Warrior Tradition” from the East that’s slightly (a lot!) different than either the Knight/Samurai model, and pre-dates it by a thousand or so years. Also, instead of a Monarchical-dominated view of power elites, it is rather Family-centric. It is from the iron-age Sanskrit Mahabarata, wherein the Bahagavad Gita contains a dialog about war-fighting, with passages relating to Family, Duty and even ~Enlightenment~.
    Essentially three things: 1.) It’s not personal, 2.) Don’t Hesitate (or all is lost), and 3.) do your FAMILY DUTY (it’s practically Prussian with the emphasis on Duty). ALSO it’s not to be taken lightly or over-zealously, nor without conscience or Guilt – and it’s not without personal loss and cost. But you gotta do what you gotta do, AND doing these three as required and in a timely manner things achieves *enlightenment.* To some degree or another – self-actualization anyhow…

  10. The “original” knight (“Ritter”) of german origin was a “fighting servant” who was given land and people because he was expected to be a fighter and protector but not much else (a prefessional fighter). He should obey his lord – but he could refuse to do so if his honor or the loyality to his emperor or another lord (some “Ministeriale” had literally dozens of lords) forbid it. In the german frontier regions (“Mark”, under the rule of “Markgrafen”) the knight WAS a pioneer.
    The whole System collapsed when the knights became noble (around the beginning of the high middle age).

  11. Bear in mind that, while the sheepdog analogy lives on, Grossman is not exactly revered in the military.

    He elides this in his bios, but he’s not a combat veteran, and he’s not a Ranger regiment or battalion veteran (he just went to Ranger school, like most infantry officers and NCOs, for two months).

    Grossman has burned a lot of bridges with the military community by aligning himself with Stolen Valor case and military phony John Giduck, another guy who (like Grossman) makes a living giving presentations that sell experience he has not got, and who is actually suing some guys (including a silver star recipient combat vet of my acquaintance) for calling him out on a career’s worth of bogus SF, ranger and officer claims (Giduck, Grossman’s pal, failed basic training, was a trainee discharge in under two months, and so is not a veteran).

  12. Was directed to your post and blog by Misfires and Light Strike and glad I was. I had just been writing about civilian gun carriers as “operators” and “warriors” on my Gun Culture 2.0 blog (you should see the pingback here). Alot of commonality here. Keep up the good work!

  13. I have no respect for Grossman because he has said some really, really stupid crap that he just pulled out of his ass and then tried to take legal action because of it. I don’t see why people keep thinking he’s so great.

  14. I have a real interest in history (almost majored in it) and I myself bought into the whole “terrible dark ages” nonsense. If anything people from the “Dark” Ages had far more freedom than us “advanced” civilized modern folk. Each feudal lord, despite all the myths (especially after the “Reformation”), was smart to respect the individual properties and liberty of the “serfs” under his protection, and subsidiarity was the norm.

    OK got away from your point of “warriors” WANTING to die. Even Musashis quote was more about a “detachment” from death once TS has HTF so he can do his job… but yes the samurai as a whole were suicidal and Musashi lived like a dog. Not for me TYVM… I think there is FAR more difference between the suicidal samurai and the knight than what you’ve pointed out. The samurai DID see death as a great end in and of itself (even in the 20th cent: the Japs despite bombing Pearl Harbor were priority #2 next to Hitler, McArthur didn’t buy into the whole “honorable big-battle” BS thus the “Island Hopping” *); the European developed bullet-proof armor (“proofed” because it would have a dent on the armor from a shot). The knight wanted to go back to his manor drink good wine and uh… make more kids.

  15. I think you’re absolutely correct that the warrior mystique is a bad model for civilian self-defense.

    You’re also correct in that samurai and knights were basically legalized thugs, at least in so far as the historians I’ve talked to have said.

    What’s interesting about both, and the funny thing here is that while “Camelot” is certainly not history, it gets the spirit of the thing right – both the samurai mystique and the more courtly form of chivalry, were efforts to civilize and channel the violent natures of these thugs. Civilize and channel both in terms of making then useful to their superiors (i.e. the head thugs 🙂 ) and tolerable to their inferiors (whom the head thugs relied upon for productivity).

    They are definitely still ideals worth aspiring to, but only in those narrow dimensions. The acceptance of death of the samurai wasn’t about suicide, but about prioritizing their duty above their life. I’ve never served in the armed forces, but I suspect if you ask a veteran, they’ll recognize some of that in their own life.

  16. As a followup to my comment about the samurai and knights, this is an interesting blog post.

    The author gets some details wrong (the 35 year life expectancy is a mean average, not a median, and it includes a hell of a lot of kids who died before the age of 5 – but hey, he’s a literature professor, not a history professor…) but it’s an interesting and somewhat eloquent discussion of the topic:


  17. ” If you think about it, both behaved pretty much like what we today call Organized Crime.”

    King = Don, Duke = Capo, Baron = Underboss, Knight = Made Man, Joining forces to take over a neighboring realm = “Going to the mattresses”; yup Feudal Europe was pretty much a mobocracy.

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