On The Power Moves forum, I initially shared some critical views of the West’s responsibility for the Ukrainian war.
Unluckily, when the emotional flames burn high, it’s difficult for people to analyze things dispassionately.
So, I decided to write a few lines about the mindsets and values behind my “flying above the war” stance.
Incidentally with some hubris, I believe those mindsets and values are well conducive to a better world for all.
Let’s start with the basics:
Men Are Driven To Both Destroying & Building
I know, it’s tough for many men to admit it.
Part of the struggle is that many men have fallen prey to a few extremists on warpath -you know, the “toxic masculinity” thing-
I see it differently.
You never let the tiny, noisy minority control the narrative -or, worse yet, control your mind-.
And it would be a crime to let a few idiots stand in the way of both truth, and your focus on what truly matters-.
So let’s get into that truth:
The Drive To Destroy
We all, and especially men, have natural drives that predispose us to escalations, wars, and vicious circles of nastiness.
Men especially have the drive to band together and form factions around high but ultimately dangerous ideals such as “motherland” and flags.
Once bands -or military formations- are formed, the status game begins.
And we assign status based on what’s most conducive to destructive achievements.
For example, “bravery” as in risking or giving one’s life for that flag or higher ideal;
“honor”, as in developing a reputation and legacy for both courage and “doing the right thing”;
loyalty” as in sticking to your guns until the bitter end (the most BS value of them all, by the way).
Then, there is of course much manipulation and propaganda to help fuel those drives and turn men into better soldiers (just as an example, generals and politicians are very happy to help soldiers chase that status with what Napoleon called “pieces of colored ribbons”).
While some of those status displays do require courage, there is the other side of the coin.
The Weakness Of Banding Together
In many ways, many men’s actions and band-forming drives are fueled by emotional weakness and a lack of personal power.
For example, seeking “brothers in arms” is also seeking emotional refuge and connection that more emotionally independent and strong men don’t really need.
Wanting to create an honorable legacy is a way of coping with the fact that there’s no legacy that can ever outlive you.
And the drive to “fight and defend” is a way of looking for a shortcut for the meaning of life in a life that may have no real meaning -much tougher to cope with that, eh? Conservatives especially really struggle with it-.
No knock on soldiers here: many are wonderful and high-quality men who truly want to add value.
And many are truly courageous and honorable men that would make not only great soldiers, but great leaders, husbands, friends, or whatever other role they may cover in society.
This is why I’d rather see brave men contribute to the world in some other ways than donning a uniform with a flag and following some sociopaths into war.
That’s something TPM addresses, but now back to us…
The Drive To Build
Luckily, we also have an equal or even more powerful drive.
The drive to build and contribute to the well-functioning of society.
It comes in endless forms, ranging from the “flashiest” and most mundane:
- Advancing science
- Doing your job well (yeah, can be as simple as that)
- Serving others in highly value-giving professions
- Building big businesses
- Preaching and coaching
- Leaving positive legacies
“Making an impact” is also part of this list.
It’s the result of two different drives: narcissistic self-aggrandizement, plus adding value -in that sense, yes, narcissism can help to positively add value in a well-functioning capitalistic society-.
For me, my little corner of contribution is to approach social sciences in more practical ways than it’s ever been done.
With the ultimate goal of helping good people advance in life, who in turn will add more value to the world, and advance civilization.
We’re All Responsible For Building More Than We Destroy
Different people define success in different ways.
One way I measure success is this:
You measure a successful life by the amount of value you’ve added to the world, minus the value you’ve subtracted.
It’s just another way of saying that a successful life adds value -including adding value to oneself, of course-.
This is something most people can agree with.
And, albeit many may have never thought of it this way, they actively live with this subconscious ideal.
That’s great news.
Now if we take that to a more subconscious level, it may even help us to prevent wars.
Now the next step is:
War Itself, As Ultimate Value Destruction, Is The Only True Public Enemy #1
As much as there are countless ways to add value…
You guessed it, there are also countless ways to be a value drain to the people around, and to the world.
But war can be seen as the biggest value drain.
Wars destroy value for countless individuals, and can set back whole civilizations.
This is a simple statement of facts.
Hence, avoiding wars must be a top priority.
Focus On What You Control Is #1 Rule of Effectiveness…
A simple tenet of an effective life is to”
Focus on what you can control the most, and forget about all else.
This is why very effective men don’t waste too much time on news, TV, gossip, or random BS that falls outside their scope, expertise, and life mission.
Now the next step is:
Hence, Westerners Should Focus On the West’s Contribution To War
This is crucial:
To be effective at preventing wars, we must each focus on our own camp.
This is BOTH because:
- It’s more effective and we can have a bigger impact focusing on our own camp
- It prevents manipulative games of seeing and framing the other as the bad enemy that in turn make our aggression “holy” and “right” (and, even in the unlikely event we’re almost 100% right, we’re STILL better off at least focusing on ourselves first to avoiding wars)
Unluckily, we’re all naturally wired -and heavily encouraged– to do the opposite.
Westerners focus on Putin’s dangerous personality and Russian aggression.
And many Russians focus on the West’s encirclement of the “Russian motherland”.
Now imagine how much more we could achieve if we inverted that.
Imagine how much more effective we’d all be if Russian citizens focused on Putin’s propaganda WHILE Westerners focused on the West’s own responsibilities for the war.
I, As A Westerner, Must Focus On The West’s Mistakes
And this is why I make a conscious effort to be contrarian on this issue.
Or, at least, contrarian in the West.
I focus much more on the West’s mistakes and contribution to the war because I’m a Westerner.
Especially, I focus on European contributions precisely because I’m European.
I personally also have more political opinions on this.
Including that the EU contributed to the war with its weakness and by following the US’s lead with defensive systems and moves that unnecessarily set a confrontational West/East frame. That only provoked Russia into its own militarism.
But this is an uninformed opinion and I’m very ignorant of the issue, so let’s skip that.
The Dual Tightrope: You’re Only Responsible For Yourself… While Taking Responsibility For The World
As usual, balance.
In this case, it’s a particularly challenging balance.
This is about walking the line and holding opposing beliefs, while avoiding extremes.
I’m a strong believer in individual-first self-empowerment.
So never take what your generation does as a personal failure. After all, as a captivating book says “we’re surrounded by idiots” and you can’t undo the idiocy of millions.
At the same time, as a high-power individual, have the courage and hubris to take it personally, call the bullshit, and call yourself out of it.
- A successful life adds value
- A successful generation advances civilization
- We’re all responsible for creating value, contributing to society and, conversely…
- We’re all responsible for avoiding value destruction
- Take responsibility, take it personally, take active anti-war stance: as the biggest possible value drains to people and society, wars are a stain to each one of us
- Actively reject the manipulation from “your group”, reject the propaganda and manipulation that invariably comes from “your side” and “your group”
- Focus on what your side can do better, rather than what the other side has done wrong
I hope this article may contribute to changing someone’s mind.
But I also wrote it for selfish reasons.
After I was critical of the West’s actions, I received several messages accusing TPM of being “pro-Putin”.
I couldn’t allow dragging TPM into that.
TPM is for individual self-empowerment and doesn’t do politics, so I immediately stopped talking about political hot issues on TPM.
But then I realized it may have been a missed opportunity to potentially share a better mindset and approach.
Not In My Name
This is the type of “high honor” mindset that I found most helpful.
And it’s put in the service of the I “take war personally” while you proudly call yourself out of the factionist game:
My grandfather’s generation rebuilt after the Second World War.
My father’s generation built an interconnected world that lifted millions to high standards of living.
My brother’s generation saw the end of the cold war and the fall of the Berlin’s war.
And now my generation restarts that BS all over again?
I was at home when the TV flashed the new “map” of an enlarged NATO opposed to the Russian block.
While the people around me seemed glad about it, I was appalled at the madness and stupidity.
Not in my name.
I’m not going to support a dumbass war for a two-colored flag and a Dombass’ line in the sand.
You do that crap.
I’m Here To Build…
I’m here to build.
Join us builders.