Click to Subscribe
Badman and Fool
A Musing on Hierarchy and Heroics: 11/29/2022
© 2023 James LaFond
The most common question I get from people on all sides of the ideological compass as I travel is essentially, “Why are politicians all, or mostly all, bad?”
Thomas Jefferson answered this in part when he reminded us, his ideological orphan step-children, that no decent man seeks power over his fellows. I would expand this notion by noting that the seekers of power, have no ultimate fellows other than fellow seekers of power. And further, I suggest that the pursuit of political power is the path to transhumanism. Indeed, ancient rulers were honest about what modern rulers lie about, their pursuit and assumption of godhood.
There is, however, an alternate power seeker, who does not understand that power will corrupt him into his antithesis, the fool. Such men, are either discarded or undermined, slandered or killed by the actual holders of power, like a puppet that fails to properly dance upon its strings is cut loose by the puppeteer.
This is the great sham of democracy, known since hallowed antiquity in Athens, the fiction that some other man than a bad actor or a fool is standing for office. Thus democracy is veiled oligarchy, and always was a device by which the politician is both the proxy and scapegoat for the social technician. No historian or newsman has ever seemed to grasp this. However, poets from Homer down to Robert E. Howard have always known that the political actor, the prince of antiquity, replaced by the politician under modernity, is as much a slave to the social manager as the stage actor is to the playwright.
Thus, in democratic modernity, fiction rules reality, while in antiquity reality informed fiction.
The academic definition of hero is a universal one, that of a champion for a societal entity, even for all humanity. The ancient Аrуаn definition was much broader, with the most beloved and long lived heroes, defying gods and men and striking out beyond and away from society, spurning it rather than serving it, yet in so doing benefiting the drool hierarchy they superseded.
The American version of this was the frontiersman, legions of them who occupied the heroic niche in the consciousness of America until 1968. Robert Rogers, Lewis Wetzel, Simon Kenton, Daniel Boone, Jim Bowie, Hugh Glass, Kit Carson, Liver-Eater Johnson, these men and hundreds more, all consistently rejected the lives of the people who recognized them as heroes, and literally fled the U.S. national borders often in a constant bid to escape the very civilization that their trail-blazing efforts to get away from it benefited. And when America caught up to its heroes, in their hard won house the politicians, lawyers and judges took the land they had tamed.
Even in antiquity, Greek and Roman non-fiction authors reviled such heroes as fools. Heracles, Milo, Timanes, Polydamas, Timocreon, were all reviled by academics or poets in some way, with all of these commentaries, especially upon the first three, reflecting the jealousy of the sedentary writer for the man of action. But as Aristotle opined, the poet touches truths unavailable to the historian.
Homer, however and the authors of Beowulf and Roland, do not fault the hero for defining himself physically, knowing that this is ultimately his doom, but celebrate his passing greatness as an ushering beyond of a brighter shade across Time’s grim stage.
Alexander, who saw himself as a doomed Achilles, and had the name, Protector-of-men, sought to overthrow the power of The King of Kings and was then corrupted in this as he then sought this status for himself and was seduced into expanding this notion into one of godhood. His life in a mere 33 years is mirrored by the life of the American military from the 1940s thru the 1970s as it evolved from a national force to a globalist force.
Although the most beloved story of Modernity is Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, few people can apply the central metaphor that power corrupts to their own lives or times. I think this is because we are living in a fictive construct, woven on a double loom of false polarity in order to fool the skeptic along with the believer. Tolkien worked in truths beyond the scope of Postmodern discourse. Perhaps we are the wraiths who have fallen into shadow.
As with most champion athletes, the highest level of success changes the victor, who either through hubris or being thrust into a larger role, suffers from a change of mission. This is the case with all successful martial nations, that the activity of conquest must in time give way to the opposite activity of defense, the psychology of which is corrosive to its original offensive character. A polity suffers even more identity fracture when its focus switches from external to internal. This is why empires implode so quickly, that they suffer from a reversal of role and a reversal of scope.
There is also the shadow factor, the playwrights who script and pay the actors who star in the political dramas of distraction and manipulation that amount to mind herding the masses. The skeptics see only this and are even more duped than the believers, never developing an actual appreciation for the mechanics of power.
The believers see only Arthur.
The nonbelievers see only Merlyn.
Both sides of the divide are thus blinded.
The poets understood that the prince, being the root politician of civilization, who acted on in service to a higher ethos on behalf of a lower demos was at once a fool, doomed, and also very rare.
Achilles, the man most able to lead the Allies to victory, was manipulated by lesser men and at least had the grace to stay his hand in protest.
Jason’s entire quest was a means by which a less able prince sent him away.
Roland, knowing full well that his own uncle and ally would betray him to the Moors, gladly embraced death in battle, betrayed by a fellow Christian to the Muslim Saracen. When he was killed, Charlemagne knew that Roland could not be replaced and that his power would ever after wane.
Beowulf is a tale of how politicians in their own hometown usually lack the moral means of combating the perils that prey upon their people. This higher quality is so rare that a prince from afar must come to save Heriot. [The central theme of most American western movies.] Then, when that prince becomes a king in his own right, and dies in defense of his people, the women declare that their people are doomed, that no king will rise to take the place of the one so rare that he sacrificed on their behalf. Their are twelve sons of princes to attend his funeral. But the poet assumes that the listener will understand that a good prince is so rare, that there is not even a chance worthy of song that one of these will rise to save the people from extinction.
Such sacrificial leaders or heroes, princes or not, in poetics, being our real metaphysical heritage, are most often motivated to fight on behalf of lesser people by a higher impulse, not a sense of representative duty to the weak many, but according to an exclusive passion intrinsic to the strong few.
To desire power over millions of unnamed and unknown souls, for the stated purpose of making the lives of the ruled better is to declare one’s ascent to demigod status via a grand lie, or is to demonstrate one’s status as a fool, as a simpleton that believes in a fairy tale pie in the sky.
The figures of Odysseus as an heroic outlier prince will be addressed in ‘To the Man on Foot.’
Our Projected Ideal
upon the earth
‘On Foot’
taboo you
dark, distant futures
within leviathan’s craw
blue eyed daughter of zeus
z-pill forever
'in these goings down'
search for an american spartacus
  Add a new comment below: