I arrived in the realm of dissident political commentary through an interest in preparing for the bad times. Those bad times were more weather related but now the bad times seem permanently on the horizon. There has been much discussion in recent years in both the mainstream and the fringe about the prospects of “Civil War II”.
It isn’t just the right side of the political aisle who worries and talks about this either. You have commentators like Tim Pool from the saner part of the left putting out YouTube videos with titles like “We Just Took A Dramatic Turn Toward Political Collapse, Could There Be A Second Civil War?” and “CIVIL WAR 2.0 Is OVERDUE According To Strauss-Howe Theory”. Amusingly there is also an article from the Spectator “America is too Fat for a Civil War“. There are much more nuanced takes on the matter as well – but they all mask a deeper concern and truth. There is division, there is also the possibility of a slow collapse.
A slower collapse is what we are in now. The structures are starting to fail. Infrastructure spending remains relatively low, your roads are clogged whilst everyone gets a new iPhone. Government regulations continue to increase, it’s harder to run your own business, yet Bezos gets wealthier. People lament the death of community whilst retreating into their smartphones. The slow decline is not just a systemic one, it is one that breaks the bonds of community that made America successful.
We’re still living through that disruption. Taking on a preparedness mindset means not getting carried away with running to buy a bunch of AR-15s and lots of ammo because all of a sudden the shooting will start. Instead you are preparing for a future where a weaker state can’t exert full strength, where once homogenous areas are fragmented and you need to defend your own produce. You are not just preparing for a black-swan collapse of the power grid/solar flare, you’re preparing for a more tribal existence and safeguarding the future of you and your tribe’s children. It’s Dreher’s Benedictine Option on steroids whilst carrying a Glock 19 as small fires start to burn all around.
With all this in mind I reached out to one of the most sensible and level-headed voices with regard to preparedness and tribe building. John Mosby. He runs his own blog at Mountain Guerrilla and is the author of a number of books about preparedness, pistol fighting, and tribe building. What follows is an un-edited email interview:
John, I’ve been a follow of your blog for a long time, having found you via the prepper community, briefly by way of an introduction how did you find yourself interested in collapse and begin writing your blog?
I was raised in a very tight-knit extended family. My grandfather had been with the OSS in WW2. He taught us, especially me, as the oldest grandchild, that all of “this” was fragile and temporary, and was going to end. We owed it to our ancestors, and our descendants, to ensure that we had put mechanisms in place, both tools and skills, that would allow us and our descendants, to carry on.
Around the time my wife was pregnant with our first child, I found a renewed interest in those old lessons, because, well, now I had one of those descendants I was responsible for. I started diving into current preparedness literature, and realized, courtesy of my specific military experience, at least on the “security” side of things, there was a whole lot of ignorance and misinformation. I would bitch and whine about it, while I was reading it, and my wife kept insisting that I should write my own blog. I refused. Finally, one night, she was tired of listening to it and told me if I didn’t write a blog to fix it, she wasn’t going to listen to me bitching anymore, because she figured I wasn’t serious about how wrong the information was.
It is my personal position that the Alt-Right label is useless and many of their leaders are incompetent – Charlottesville seems at times to be a kind of defining moment in street based conflict between the extremes in recent years but it also seems to have driven the State as whole to effectively shut down further chances for conflict between these groups – do you think we are likely to see such confrontations again or will the conflict evolve in a different way?
I should preface this with the statement that I don’t consider myself “alt-right.” I’m certainly no paleoconservative, and I’d eat my gun if I thought I was a neo-con, but I’ve never considered myself alt-right either, if for no other reason than the baggage the term carries in many folks’ minds.
I’m a tribalist heathen, religiously. So, basically, in many ways, unless something is happening on my mountain, or to one of my people—which legitimately can only be defined as those people in my “tribe” which is, of course, limited by Dunbar’s number—I don’t really care about it.
I keep an eye on current events, of course, both out of professional interest, and because those things could affect my people or my mountain.
In regards to the “alt-right,” I think you’re fundamentally right. I’ve seen two basic characteristics surrounding those who openly self-identify as “alt-right.” On the first, you’ve got complete fucking idiots who shouldn’t be allowed outside of the house without responsible adult supervision. On the second, you’ve got people who very quickly make it abundantly obvious to any unbiased observer that they’d be more accurate to label themselves as “alt-me first, second, and always.” They are far more interested in self-promotion than any alleged political or cultural goals.
It’s fascinating to me, from an anthropological perspective, how quickly, in today’s world, everything becomes a vehicle for ego-driven self-promotion. Take something like “traditionalist European” culture, and look at some of the personalities who claim to be pushing for a return to it. Those people aren’t Arthurian leaders. They’re not Hermann Lons’ Wehrwulf. They’re using these values they claim to support as a tool for self-aggrandizement in the basest, most contemporary way.
I don’t think the “alt-right” matters much, if at all.
The problem of course, goes deeper than that. The conflict between “Left” and “Right” requires—by definition—a conflict between two sides of the same thing. That thing—modern civilization—isn’t doing most of us any favors. In fact, I would argue—whether you’re a European traditionalist or an Asiatic traditionalist or an African traditionalist (and yes, I’m aware of the inherent inconsistency behind the idea of some sort of pan-Asiatic or pan-African traditional culture….the same as the inherent inconsistency behind the idea of some sort of pan-European traditional culture)–that modern civilization, despite its lauded benefits and apparent comforts IS the enemy. So, why would you want to be on EITHER side of something that is inherently inimical to your supposed cultural values?
Step off the stage, and go your own way. The conflict is going to continue, and its going to go in whatever way the thought influencers—whomever they are—push it to go.
Outside of explicit attempts by the Alt-Right to imitate European street politics it seems the most outwardly potentially violent other movement is still linked to the more traditionally American private libertarian approach. The original Bundy Ranch incident for example was seen by many in this Constitutionalist/3% camp as a victory and actually motivated people to drive out in numbers. Without debating the merits of their cause, do you think the root of this ideology is set to remain powerful enough to continue to provoke confrontation and incident?
Yes and no. Yes, because Americans have this deep-seated apparent need to believe in the idea of the rugged individualist, as the ideal American archetype. No, because as things continue to collapse around us, in the ongoing decline of American international hegemony, we’re seeing more and more of a retraction to the local, and you cannot survive—let alone thrive—at the local level, via individualism. Amazon, Wal-Mart, and transnational corporations facilitate the practicality of individualism.
You can’t get away with that at the local community level. Putting your own self interests above the needs of the community only results in the community considering you a prick, and shunning you. You know what traditional societies called “rugged individualists?” They called them hermits.
So, the “libertarian/individualist” political motif will continue to hold some allure ideologically. It’s pretty deeply rooted. I don’t think it’s sustainable in the contemporary environment though, and the aftermath of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge standoff, where, despite the Bundys being released, a couple of guys are doing 20 years in federal prison, and LaVoy Finicum ended up dead for no real benefit, was eye-opening for a lot of people. How many people, outside of a very small niche community, even remember his name? How many people even remember the names of the dudes who did go to prison?
Who wants to participate in a political movement that not only doesn’t really provide any benefit for you, but then forgets you, when you end up dead or in prison?
One of your more poignant blog posts in recent times was about how the radical left are already far more engaged in street combat and tribal warfare than the right. We’re approaching the election season now and I’m sure it will increase tensions. Avoiding the peril of predictions do you have some advice on what to look out for?
The funny thing about political violence is, while it’s never the same, it tends to rhyme really well. I suspect we’ll see “protests” that turn into riots. At some point—and I will not be particularly surprised if the 2020 election season is that point—some of those protestors are going to graduate from Molotov cocktails and shitting on police cars, to tossing pipe bombs, and using guns. I think there is a lot more organization going into the next election season, and there’s a lot more anger. The “Left” has had several years now with POTUS in the White House, to foment and stew in their indignation, and plan and organize, and if there’s one thing that they do better than anything else, it’s organizing.
Many people have sung loud about the possibility of a ‘Civil War’ – far fewer seem to talk about a return to a kind of terrorism that was carried out by radical leftists in the 70s through mail bombs – do you think this could rear its head again or was that a product of its time?
I think it was largely a product of its time. The radical Left of the 70s is damned near the mainstream Centrist of today. At a minimum, most of their goals and beliefs have become the mainstream of the Democratic Party. Today’s radical leftist would have scared the living shit out of the Weathermen of the 1970s. The Symbionese Liberation Army were pikers compared to some of the Socialist Rifle Association affiliated groups out there today. Despite the claims of a lot of people on the “Right” today, the “millenials” of the Left are not all tiptoeing through a life of ease, riding Daddy’s coat tails. They’re not particularly afraid of physical confrontation, and they feel completely justified in throwing a Molotov Cocktail into an “oppressor’s” car.
Going back to the Bundy Ranch and Malheur thing….people on the “Right” made a big deal out of the fact that “snipers” on the Oathkeeper side of things were aiming their rifles at federal officers. Okay. That’s a big step. It’s nowhere near as drastic as some “pussy ass socialist millenial coward” chucking a fire bomb onto the hood of a police cruiser in Portland, Oregon. Sorry, it’s just not.
Empires always end – it feels strongly to many readers that we are living through the beginning of the end. Collapse takes many forms and the disaster side of things aside a slow downturn seems possible due to structural pressures. Your other passion is about Tribe building which you have a book about. What is the the one piece of advice you’d give to young men who wish to start building their own tribe?
My one piece of advice? I’ll answer this by telling a story on myself.
When I was a young Ranger NCO, I’d gone home on leave. Me and some high school friends had gotten together, and decided to go out to the bar and chase skirts. I was pretty well inebriated before we even got to the first bar. I was out on the dance floor with some girl, when some dude sucker punched me with an elbow to the back of the head. I went ass-over-teakettle, but came up in a hurry, ready to bang. By the time I had gotten back on my feet and turned around though—and I was really fit, and really tough, and extremely comfortable with getting hit and fighting through it—one of my buddies had already vaulted the rail around the dance floor, crossed the dance floor, slammed the dude to the ground, and was machine-gunning punches into his face.
Here’s the thing though: He and I couldn’t stand each other. We were part of the same crew of friends, but we really—REALLY—didn’t like each other. Never had. When someone asked him about it, his response was, “It doesn’t matter. He’s one of ours. You don’t get to sucker punch one of ours.”
Identify those people around you, who—even if you don’t really like each other all that much—are “yours.” Cultivate those friendships. Sacrifice your own ego and comfort for those friendships. Filter every single decision you make through, “what impact will it have on my people?” If the impact won’t be positive? Don’t do it.
Boiling it down? Tribe first. Me last.
(and, for the record, we’re extremely close friends nowadays)
Thanks for taking the time John. Readers can visit John Mosby’s blog at: https://mountainguerrilla.wordpress.com/