Moral High Ground = Win
courtesy The Arctic Patriot
(Editor’s Note: I hear my friends at the Texas Nationalist Movement constantly state that their mission is the peaceful, legislative process of secession for Texas Independence. That seems to me to be the moral high ground of individual liberty. But is that the best way? Does it not by definition remove all non-peaceful methods from consideration? The TNM leadership states unequivocally that they are not a militia, and they are not. But any student of history will see that physical resistance happens quite regularly when groups of people secede. If you put a “Gun-Free Zone” sign in your front yard, what does it tell the bad guys in your neighborhood? Would not a reasoned, measured, careful discussion of the implications of the moral high ground be in order?
This article asks some really tough questions. I hope we are all mature enough to consider the ramifications of holding the moral high ground.)
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“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
— Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (The Gulag Archipelago: 1918-1956)
I was taught to never choose to get into a fight that was not worth dying in. This has cost me superficial social “honor” at times, but has saved me a lot of trouble. It has also earned me respect at times, as well. This outlook has saved me from injury and suffering for the sake of largely meaningless social violence. If the fight isn’t worth it, I usually walk away. If I decide to engage in a fight, it is for survival, or I have no other option remaining. In this day and age, when people kill each other over parking places (as happened here recently), it’s often better to walk away, even if you’re armed.
I apply the same logic to our struggle for liberty, for freedom, for the principles our nation was founded on. Is it worth it? If it’s not really worth it, we should just walk away. Really. This is not a game. If it is worth it, it is a fight that needs to be won, and everything that inhibits or works against that ultimate victory should be discarded, burned, and thrown to the ground as rubbish.
I won’t waste your time arguing that the fight for liberty must be won, at all costs. To me, this is self evident. To the millions murdered under oppressive regimes in the last century, this is likely true as well. The march of government towards total control must be slowed and pushed back, whenever possible.
I will make a statement here, and I will spend the rest of the post attempting to back it up with my reasoning.
The only possible “Moral High Ground” in a fight worth winning is victory. Period.
Moral High Ground = Win.
First, let me clearly and unequivocally state that I am not a moral relativist. Then again, we all are, in a way. I would not kill a random person on the street, but I would kill a random enemy soldier on the battlefield. If that is moral relativism (and it is, possibly, to a degree), I am guilty. I will illustrate this point in a few minutes again, in the text of this article. You’ll know when it happens.
What I am not saying here is that the end justifies the means. I am saying that the end and the means are one and the same. This is important, as I am not preaching mass murder as a means to ensure victory. I am preaching, however, a hard message, a message that America preached in WW2’s closing days. Sometimes, dropping an atomic weapon on civilian targets is the most moral way to go.
This is important. Win. In a war where losing means you are dead or enslaved (the previously referred to “war worth fighting”), losing is the least moral outcome. Therefore, tying one’s hands in a way that impedes victory is an immoral act.
The concept of “Moral High Ground” is unique to man in nature. When a mother moose feels her calf is threatened, she fights. She wins or dies, that’s it. If she dies, so does her calf. That’s how she sees it; that’s how she fights. A mother moose is the most dangerous animal in Alaska, as many have unfortunately learned. It’s her calf, that’s why. Same with a sow grizzly. No questions, defeat is unacceptable. Nature does not know moral high ground, she knows life, and death. While I understand that we are not the same as animals, we are subject to the laws of nature. We cannot deny nature’s laws.
If we tie our hands in a manner that lessens the chance of victory, we are increasing the risk of losing. In a fight worth fighting, doing this is an immoral act.
The concept of holding the“moral high ground”, that is, maintaining moral superiority over one’s opponent in all or most cases, is at the very least, superfluous and/or frivolous. It could be looked at as chasing the wind, especially in cases where you and your opponent have radically different moral codes. The concept of a “moral high ground” assumes from the beginning that you and your opponent are on the same plane morally, and that your opponent is consciously choosing to “cheat”, or use dishonorable or “immoral means”, according to your moral code, to win a fight.
Enter the running guerrilla firefights in the opening days of the First American Revolution. Enter IEDs and urban sniping in Iraq, and similar attacks in Afghanistan and other theatres. I have lost friends to these methods, and have an acquaintance who lives with shrapnel in his body, forever, because of them. Who has the moral high ground in these cases? One side has the luxury of fighting “fairly” and “honorably” from a position of strength and superiority, the other is materially inferior and weaker.
In almost every force-on-force tactical engagement in the First Revolution where the Americans met the British upon an open field, in an upright, “fair”, tactical firefight, the British triumphed. In almost every force-on-force engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan, American military forces trounce their opponents. The only realistic option remaining to the insurgents is to fight on via IEDs, or give it up altogether. You can bet British soldiers were every bit as frustrated and repulsed by the Americans’ tactics as our own troops are of IEDs today. The stronger force has the luxury of maintaining the illusion of “moral superiority”, yet this is actually counter to the interests of a “clean”, “humanitarian”, or “moral” way to fight. Maintaining the moral high ground is often the least moral course of action, as it prolongs the struggle and increases suffering. We owe our nation to an unfair fight that was often brutal, ugly, and involved very, very questionable methods at times.
How does this make sense? How can maintaining the “moral high ground” actually be the least moral course of action?
Can detonating a WMD/dirty bomb in a city full of hundreds of thousands of civilians possibly be a “moral high ground” action? NYC? Houston? Is nuking a civilian population center ever right? Is it? If it happened tomorrow in America to further Al-Qaeda’s cause with the least loss to their side, would you say that doing this allowed them the moral high ground?
But we did it not once, but twice in Japan, and most Americans would argue that it was an acceptable action. We committed the very act that we would decry, were it to happen to us. These atomic weapons were used after an intense six month campaign of horrific firebombing of defenseless Japanese cities. We are the only nation to have ever dropped nukes in anger, and they were dropped on large civilian population centers, both times. This act arguably violated international law, as it obviously falls into the category of “indiscriminate aerial bombardment of undefended cities” (see Dresden, as well). Why is this then acceptable to us, as Americans? It is first of all acceptable to us because it happened to “them”, the enemy. If San Francisco would have been nuked, ending the war in favor of Japan, every American would have been morally repulsed, while the Japanese would have rejoiced. It is acceptable because, to us, immolating, burning, and irradiating hundreds of thousands Japanese men, women, and children allowed us to end the war as quickly as possible, losing as few of us ( and them, coincidentally) as possible, as far as we can tell. An invasion of mainland Japan could have cost possibly millions of lives, and a year or more of pointless fighting to finish off an already defeated enemy. And that is the point. That is what it’s all about. In this, America committed a horrific act by any standard; yet this act ended the war. War is hell. This is not necessarily moral relativism, but war. War is immorality objectified. Any who partake cannot remain clean. It just is not possible.
The most moral manner in which to conduct a war or fight that is worth fighting is the way that allows your side to win as quickly as possible. Any prolonging of a war or a fight can only lead to more suffering and pain. If the war or fight you are about to engage in is not worth every possible effort to win, it may be that it really is not worth fighting for in the first place. Parallels can be drawn from the more recent situations the US military has found itself in. Witness our troops’ tied hands in Iraq and Afghanistan. Is that any way to fight a war, or are we just providing our enemies with targets? Are we sitting on the “moral high ground” there? And Vietnam…we fought so hard to keep the “high ground” there. Did we hold it? If we did, at what cost? By whose standard? Not by the dead Americans’ with their names on that long black wall. Not by the South Vietnamese tortured and killed after the communist takeover.
If a war or fight is worth winning, you’d better win. Stack the deck. If you can accept any chance whatsoever of losing, through conscious choice, it may be that the fight just isn’t worth it.
A “moral high ground”-based approach to warfare, as the US is currently trying to use in the Middle East, handicaps one’s troops, and restrains them from using the means necessary to secure victory. Victory is obtained only in the offense. Staying on the “moral high ground” is a wholly defensive posture.
Defeat, in a worthwhile cause, is the most undesirable condition, the ugliest possible “end”. If defeat is acceptable, the fight should not have been joined. I know that I am being repetitive, but this is the whole premise I am standing on. It is essential to understand, in my opinion.
In war, often the most moral and humane end is the one that comes the quickest. Hence, the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Evil? Yes. The end result was better than mainland invasion, for all parties.
If things go to bad and then to worse, we had better drop notions of winning based on the virtues of our perceived “moral high ground”, as focusing on holding the moral high ground will only serve two purposes, i.e. limiting the ability to fight for a victorious end, and prolonging the struggle. Again I say, a fight worth fighting is a fight that must be won, at all costs.
I will leave you with this quote, which you have likely read before. Read it, and then think about how it may apply to us now and or in the future. People are great at gathering data and facts, but horrible at translating that into something usable. Translate what this man and millions of others have learned into something usable in your life:
“And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?… The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If…if…We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation…. We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.”
— Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Do you understand what he is talking about? Really? What is a “security operative”? Think about it. They have families, they are human. They are just doing their jobs, and might not have any clue about where the bus they load you on takes you. They are no more or less personally guilty than federal agents today, who arrest pregnant women on trumped up charges to pressure their husbands to comply. I know this happens. I have seen it. Some of you know what I mean. I know for sure that one of you has experienced this, almost exactly. They are perhaps less guilty than an agent who consciously twists facts and evidence to land an innocent American and father in prison. In Solzhenitsyn’s time, security agents were often essentially conscripted. Our agents of tyranny are all willing volunteers.
Let this part of it sink in:
We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.”
Do you understand?
We like to quote Solzhenitsyn, but are you willing to accept the ugliness of what he is saying here? Really? He understood that ANY MEANS that could have prevented the horror of the Gulag was acceptable, no matter how ugly. He understood, too late, that it was a cause worth fighting and winning, even if it got ugly. He understood that because he did not fight, it was ultimately his own fault.
I think this applies to struggles and conflict of every type. Personally, politically, in a social violence situation, or in physical warfare. It applies to the smart-alec kid at the store, the guy who cuts you off, the drunk guy provoking you (walk away, if possible), and to the armed guy in your kids’ room at 3 a.m (end the threat any way you can, even if you have to lie, cheat, sneak, or kill).
If it’s worth fighting for, then WIN. The desired end state is end the threat. By any means necessary. Any outcome other than victory in a fight worth fighting is unacceptable. Choosing to lose in such a fight is immoral. Any fight in which you can afford any intentional and unnecessary risk of losing is a fight that perhaps you shouldn’t have fought.
If it’s not worth winning, don’t fight.
If it’s worth fighting, win. By any means necessary.