Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Dr. Pat on American Exit Strategies

Deneen explains why we’re creeped out by both politics and babies. It’s always good to be reminded of the creepy side of individualism. We do live a world full of networking, hooking up, and duty-free marriage, and so one in which sophisticated people have trouble talking and acting in terms of love and loyalty. Pat may be given to dramatic exaggeration, but who isn’t?

Discussions - 4 Comments

No, Peter, I think he's really on to something with this. Thanks for this link. But another thing to consider is that perhaps there are not as many politicians (or spouses) who today strive to work at making themselves as interesting or attractive to their partisans as was the "old Coke" and thereby inspire the kind of loyalty it engendered. Duty is important, to be sure. But if it is duty alone that we rely upon to inspire loyalty, most of us will be sorely disappointed (and disappointing). Perhaps I'm naive about this, but I think loyalty usually comes to those who truly deserve it. So perhaps what we are failing to teach people today is not so much that they have a duty to be loyal, but that they have a duty to deserve loyalty.

During the three day anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg, the Pennsylvania Network televises live the walking tours of the battlefield. Those tours are conducted by Park Rangers, and they're usually fascinating, {if you're into military history that is...}. During one of the tours, the Park Ranger mentioned how Union General Abner Doubleday did exceptional service during the battle, which he described in detail. But despite that service, Doubleday didn't really receive the plaudits that such service warranted. And the histories too, have given him somewhat short shrift.

So one of the audience asked why that was the case. The Ranger replied it was due to Doubleday's personality. He was a difficult man to get along with. So General Doubleday, {father of baseball by the way...} despite the superb bit of commanding he did during the battle, and elsewhere, was hamstrung by his personality.

Now my point in dragging all of this up is that personality plays a huge factor in generating loyalty. It doesn't mean that popularity is essential for creating loyalty. If that was the case, drill sergeants wouldn't be remembered as fondly as they usually are. Hollywood long ago discovered how captivating a tough commander, a tough drill sergeant could be. But within the personality there must be something that loyalty can be affixed to. That's vague of course. But what I'm describing isn't something hard and fast. So vagueness is appropriate.

Patton could be a son-of-a-bitch; and he remarked as much to his men. Popular history recalls Patton as a General constantly in the face of his subordinates, constantly digging his spurs into 'em. That's wildly inaccurate. Sure Patton reprimanded, but much more often Patton praised his soldiers, praised his officers. And not just abstractly, as units. But individually, in front of their peers. The movie about him captures a good deal of the man. But this aspect of his overall persona is entirely left out. His men knew that he was a GENUINE professional, that he was a military scholar, tactician and strategist of the first order. He even looked the part. Other Generals did not warrant such loyalty, men like Bradley, Hodges, Clark, Deever, Patch. Most of those generals were forgotten. But not Patton. Patton will ALWAYS be remembered.

MacArthur, who was the most decorated American in The Great War, generated UNIVERSAL loyalty among his men then. He was wildly popular. Like Rickenbacker, like Father Duffy, like Alvin York, but only more so. But in the Second World War, he was often derided as "Dugout Doug." And that cynical descriptive caused him enormous pain.

Tommy Maguire, 5th Air Force fighter ace, with 38 confirmed, he of whom Maguire Air Force Base in New Jersey is named, could be a real hard-ass to his men. He was a pro, took his craft seriously and took seriously as well his obligation to instruct new pilots in the art of air combat maneuvering, what is commonly called "dogfighting." And he had a decided edge to his person. There was some serious friction between him and Charles Lindbergh, the Lone Eagle, when Lindbergh went out to visit the Pacific theater.

But that type of edge isn't a sine qua non to generating loyalty.

Victory helps enormously. Examine Lee, who was somewhat remote, called even then, "the marble man." But ponder the absolute devotion that followed him, and follows him still.

I really like the duty to deserve loyalty and will gladly plagiarize it.

Dr. P shows the real difference between politics and economics--not so much the testosterone test?

Regimes, parties, friends, spouses--it's good if they're in the neighborhood of deserving our loyalty--but I think only in the case of marriage does St. Thomas say fidelity is a good belonging to its essence. We creepy humans are hard to live with and are doing well if we plagiarize!

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