Lion of the Blogosphere

The proleness of military service

This is a topic that’s not talked about openly. Even I worry about violating this taboo, because we need people to volunteer for the military. If not, they could start drafting people again, and certainly no one from the upper classes wants there to be a draft that could impact their own families. However, I’m too old for the draft, and I don’t have any children, so I guess I don’t have much personal investment.

Military service wasn’t always prole. In fact, just the opposite. In the distant past, military service was a value transference occupation. Soldiers, when they are not at war, just sit around the barracks doing nothing and living off the largess of people doing the real work that provides them with food, uniforms, and weaponry. So as a value transference occupation, soldiery had higher prestige than value creation occupations. As originally explained by Thorstein Veblen in his book The Theory of the Leisure Class, the people who do real work always have the lowest level of prestige.

So why did things change?

For starters, merely being in a value transference occupation has less significance because today most of the labor force does value transference work. Soldiers still have higher prestige than people who pick crops or do other types of manual labor, and their prestige is surely no worse than blue collar occupations such as driving a truck or working in a factory. However, soldiery is a lower level of value transference, competing with millions of other government jobs. As a job that doesn’t require a college degree, military service is inherently prole. Because officers have a real college degree, officers are middle class, but no higher than middle class. Being a military officer is a career like teaching or nursing which also require college education but they are not careers that the upper class aspires to. This is a huge change from the 19th century when people from the upper classes did become military officers.

Today, the upper classes are obsessed with being safe and healthy. Is it surprising that military service, an occupation in which you can be shot and killed by the enemy, is looked down upon in a time when it’s illegal to drive your car without being strapped in by seat belts and having an air bag in case the seat belt doesn’t work? When children can’t ride bicycles without wearing a helmet?

So in conclusion, enlisted service is prole because it does not require a college degree and because you can be killed in combat.

Service as an officer is equivalent to the prestige of a police officer with a college degree, at the bottom level of middle class, because you can be killed while doing your job.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

September 29, 2014 at 4:32 PM

Posted in Bobos, Proles

178 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Well, any officer who is a graduate of one of the service academies has more prestige than any police position could have, IMO.

    How do you place people who grew up in one class, but work in an occupation that is mostly filled by members of another class? For example, what if a TOOS son went to West Point and became an officer? I think he would retain the mannerisms of his “born-to” class. And the low class person who is smart enough to become wealthy will also have prole habits and mannerisms.


    September 29, 2014 at 4:48 PM

  2. Its about being armed.From the Egyptians through the Spartans and Romans and medieval Europe, only the upper classes through the middling classes were armed. Were in fact soldiers. It was expected for Kings and Upper Class leaders to lead from the front, part of aristocracy was dying in battle, which was expected and valued as glorious.

    For example, Achilles was not a bearded hipster dying in a hospice tended by immigrant day labor. He died on the battlefield as expected and lauded.

    Being armed and the leadership of the military was the natural expression of aristocracy, and Robert E. Lee (ancestors in the American Revolutionary leadership and old Anglo-Saxon Wessex aristocracy) was the epitome of that attitude.

    IMHO this changed with the ascendancy of the commercial class. Certainly massive amounts of Northern Puritan culture men joined the Union Army, and often rose to high leadership: Grant and Sherman to name two. The Puritan model had a more citizen-soldier army, every man expected to do his duty not only in peace but time of war, in a mass muster based as much on the old Greek and Roman Republic levies as Revolutionary France.

    The Quaker-Pennsylvanian Commercial class, also centered in New York City, have dominated and the collapse of warfare into either Gotterdammerung Nuclear Global annihilation or low level anti-insurgency has led (incorrectly) into military service being of the old Southern Backwoods nation culture. That is not “prole” — relatively few lower class Northeastern guys join, but a nation/culture thing. Military service is mainly the province of Westerners and Southerners, if there was enough effort to stage a lower-level coup like those of Flight Lt. Jerry Rawlings or Staff Sergeant Samuel K. Doe, there would be little to oppose it.

    History shows that being unarmed and unused to arms, fighting, and violence makes a person or group easy pickings for those who do not lack those qualities. I’ll note the Dutch had no such pacifism despite being a mercantile state.


    September 29, 2014 at 4:50 PM

  3. I’ve served in the military, and I agree with this. One thing I’ve noticed is that the US military has consistently gotten more prole over the years. For example, there have been and still are upper class officers, but the percentage keeps dropping.

    Most military service is not that dangerous anymore, and the parts that genuinely are dangerous have resisted prole drift, but upper class people have gotten so risk averse that they still don’t like serving in the military; its gotten physically safer, but not safe enough.


    September 29, 2014 at 4:51 PM

    • I at one time contemplated joining as an officer. I went to a weeklong “leadership camp” where west point students would teach high school kids about leadership, history, government, etc.

      I was overwhelmed with a sense of how stupid they all seemed.

      The draft or some kind of mandatory military service ought to be brought back to reinvigorate the service, and it might have a positive moral effect on the youth. I don’t think Heinlein’s Starship Troopers (the book) was too far off in its recommendations.


      September 29, 2014 at 5:23 PM

      • “I at one time contemplated joining as an officer. I went to a weeklong “leadership camp” where west point students would teach high school kids about leadership, history, government, etc.

        “I was overwhelmed with a sense of how stupid they all seemed.”

        Who, the West Point cadets or the high school students?


        September 29, 2014 at 8:30 PM

      • Both.


        September 30, 2014 at 12:46 AM

      • Troopers was not about the draft, which Heinlein opposed. The veterans in his book who get to vote are from any branch of public service, like librarians or Red Cross.


        September 30, 2014 at 11:54 AM

      • Exactly right.

        What makes the military prole above all else is that it’s actually impossible to take it seriously if you aren’t stupid.

        First Ypres

        September 30, 2014 at 9:52 PM

  4. Navy Seals seem to have prestige.


    September 29, 2014 at 4:53 PM

    • Prestige is gained within group. No SEAL is going to be an invitee to TOOS circles on the basis of being a SEAL.


      September 29, 2014 at 5:39 PM

      • Disagree. Was at a very quiet retreat for up-and-coming conservatives. Mostly exceedlingly well-educated lawyers, entreprenuers, minor politicians, with a few policy makers, political fundraisers and kids whose money had gotten them positions managing charitable foundations and other non-profits. The few that stuck out were the military personnel, including the SEALs. The military-industrial-congressional complex very much appreciates representation by some of the military’s best and brightest.


        September 30, 2014 at 6:54 PM

      • No SEAL is going to be an invitee to TOOS circles on the basis of being a SEAL.


        There are ex-Special Ops guys all over corporate America.

        They have the “sweet spot” combination of traits needed for business: aggression tempered with strict discipline, leadership, charisma, intelligence in the 120-130 “CEO” range i.e. smart enough to understand business operations but not so smart they’re introverts, and life experience.

        The Undiscovered Jew

        September 30, 2014 at 8:12 PM

      • Ex-military guys are all over the DC government contracting industry, and there were many in middle management in the Phoenix area, but there aren’t any in New York City corporate offices.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        September 30, 2014 at 10:15 PM

      • but there aren’t any in New York City corporate offices.

        Not entirely true although they are concentrated in military jobs. I personally know an ex commando (I forget which branch) who in his late 20s majored in math and then landed a quantitative IBanking job in Manhattan.

        The Undiscovered Jew

        September 30, 2014 at 11:10 PM

      • @ Lion

        There are former military guys all over Wall Street. A not insignificant percentage of post-MBA banking hires from the M7 schools are veterans (at HSW, it’s typically the vets/engineers who go for sellside finance). Military guys tend not to get the highest profile jobs (tough to break into the buyside when you’ve not done typical banking/PE stints immediately after undergrad), but they still seem to do pretty damn well.


        September 30, 2014 at 11:57 PM

    • Elite commando personnel are intelligent.

      When they’ve finished their service they usually go into business. And do well.

      The Undiscovered Jew

      September 29, 2014 at 9:07 PM

      • I have always found Special Forces (Green Berets) more intellectual than Rangers, Seals, Marine Force Recon. Special Forces are usually well read in the history and politics of the part of the world that they specialize in. Most other special operation personnel are shock troops.


        September 30, 2014 at 7:33 AM

      • Special Forces are usually well read in the history and politics of the part of the world that they specialize in.

        I’d love to see test score breakdowns by service type of white military personnel. The data is out there; the military is one of the last non-academic organizations still allowed to screen for intelligence. But is it public?

        The Undiscovered Jew

        September 30, 2014 at 8:05 PM

  5. We don’t have any serious military leadership either.

    A few centuries ago military leadership competed 50/50 with landed aristocracy for governance.

    Napoleon, George Washington, Andrew Jackson, etc. Many historical leaders come from the military.

    Now the majority are lawyers.


    September 29, 2014 at 5:08 PM

    • Of the first 8 presidents, 7 were lawyers at some point (including Jackson), and 5 were primarily lawyers.

      Caesar also was a lawyer for a few years.


      September 30, 2014 at 10:49 PM

  6. In my experience:

    CIA: mostly swpl – the proles are usually in GRS/SAD. In terms of SWPL, DI>NCS>S&T

    State: very swpl outside of dss

    Treasury: swpl

    FBI: prole

    DEA: prole

    DHS: prole

    DIA: more prole than swpl

    I have to disagree with the officer corps. I find those who attended academies or went to top 25 schools and did OCS/ROTC are definitely more swpl than your average cop with a degree.

    Service as an officer is much more prestigious than being in non-federal law enforcement even with a degree.

    Lion, is this guy prole?

    H -> marines -> HBS/HKS -> most likely will win MA-6 after unseating an incumbent D in the primary.


    September 29, 2014 at 5:32 PM

    • The IRS is mostly made up of proles.


      September 29, 2014 at 7:04 PM

    • How can someone be an infantry commander and work for a railroad company and also be in favor of gun control? This is weird.

      He seems like a cynical conservative whose realized that the republican party is doomed and now seeks to be part of the wave of center-right “democrats”.


      September 29, 2014 at 8:06 PM

      • that is the future of politics: Those who realize that the Republicans will never overcome all of the automatic Democratic Party voting non-whites and who will just move into the Democratic Party to have a career in politics. How else can one expect to affect policy or governance?


        September 30, 2014 at 7:35 AM

      • McChrystal is in favor of gun control as well.


        October 1, 2014 at 12:44 AM

    • DHS is ghetto.

      When Bush 2 created it, the other FedGov agencies – who can’t fire workers easily, especially if they’re of the colored persuasion – leaped at the opportunity and moved as much of their affirmative action problem cases there as possible.

      The Undiscovered Jew

      September 29, 2014 at 9:18 PM

    • Despite high intelligence, my best friend from childhood, skipped college and enlisted in the Navy. He served 22 years active duty, earned his BA in the Navy, reached the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer, and retired at 42 years old with a $40K annual pension + full no-cost health care for life. Since his ex-wife gets half his pension, he had to go back to work and got hired by the Coast Guard (DHS), and is now earning $90K and building up a second pension.

      E. Rekshun

      September 30, 2014 at 1:26 PM

  7. Military service is not as clear a class marker as you claim here, especially not when you focus on the combat arms.

    I know a number of people with elite backgrounds who served in the military (SEALS, Marine Corps infantry, Rangers, etc.), both as officers and as enlisted men. Just because the great majority of the military is “prole” doesn’t automatically make everyone in a uniform prole by default.


    September 29, 2014 at 5:44 PM

    • Even your average enlisted guy in the military ends up having many experiences that are definitely not prole. World Travel, being exposed to other cultures, having to work with people outside your local area. Joining the military and being willing to leave your hometown marks people are different than those who stay put.


      September 30, 2014 at 7:37 AM

  8. Becoming an officer was considered pretty low class in 19th century England. It was for the dumbasses of the Winston Churchill’s father thought Winston so stupid that military (via Sandhurst) was the best career he could aspire to. Even then, he had to crack the books and come up with the requisite number of horses.

    It was a constant theme in British literature, that military officers were romantic but drunken, stupid and broke from gambling.


    September 29, 2014 at 5:48 PM

    • ..I guess that’s still upper class, but they were the bottom of the top so to speak.


      September 29, 2014 at 5:49 PM

      • Your (basically correct) “guess” almost entirely invalidates your point. Class has nothing to do with intelligence, in the short term. The term you’re looking for is “surplus elites” and there’s a huge difference between using them to officer armies and leaving them to drift around Williamsburg.


        September 29, 2014 at 7:45 PM

  9. In Ancient Greece, being a soldier (a hoplite) was prestigious because they bought their own armor, and only men with money could afford that. But outside of Sparta, most hoplites were the equivalent of army reservists – soldiering wasn’t a full time gig.

    As for modern America, the decline in status of the military probably only dates back to the 1960s, when collegians could get draft deferments from Vietnam. Ivy League schools proudly commemorated their alumni who were killed serving in earlier wars.

    Dave Pinsen

    September 29, 2014 at 5:51 PM

    • Yeah, I think it goes back to the ’60’s, also. Remember that back then, there were a lot New Left types who anti-authority, and what institution is more authoritarian than the military? They make you dress a certain way, salute your superiors, follow all these orders…profoundly ungroovy, man. But even more than that, the radical leftists of the day viewed the military as chief mechanism through which the west exploited and oppressed people all over the world. European soldiers helped Britain and France maintain their colonial empires in the first half of the twentieth century, then it was American soldiers in Vietnam trying to thwart the efforts of those poor communists just trying to end capitalist exploitation and create a better world. Or….something like that, anyway. The point is the military is an inherently conservative institution and leftists all over the world saw it as an obstacle to their revolutionary goals, and since leftism is fashionable and conservatism isn’t, they were able to make military service seem prole.

      Jeff R.

      September 30, 2014 at 8:33 PM

  10. I find the question of whether the military is prole or not largely irrelevant. Since the vast majority of the country is prole, It’s almost a meaningless question. Particularly since the vast majority of people who serve don’t make careers of it. They serve their 4 years to have a little adventure, get some college money, and get their man card stamped.

    But Ed has a point that the upper classes now avoid military service. That will no doubt accelerate since in the past there was at least the idea that having a military background was needed for political office, but now that we’ve proven that you can be a draft dodger and still get elected to the highest office in the land, it’s no longer a resume enhancer that it was once thought to be.So the separation of the elite classes and and the military will continue. Except of course for the IDF. David Brooks son is serving in the IDF. I’ve no doubt Brooks is proud of his son, but would have been repulsed if his son had joined a branch of the US military.

    Mike Street Station

    September 29, 2014 at 5:54 PM

    • “I find the question of whether the military is prole or not largely irrelevant. Since the vast majority of the country is prole, It’s almost a meaningless question. Particularly since the vast majority of people who serve don’t make careers of it. They serve their 4 years to have a little adventure, get some college money, and get their man card stamped. ”

      Yep. That was me.

      I oppose a draft but you shouldn’t have the right to vote or hold office unless you do the minimum military service, say, two years active and six reserve.. And of course, no broads or homos allowed.

      Robert the Wise

      September 30, 2014 at 7:26 AM

      • Sounds like Starship Troopers.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        September 30, 2014 at 9:28 AM

      • In a perfect world, I would prefer the Starship Troopers type Republic, in which you have to earn your right to vote via some kind of service, rather than have it just given to you with no reciprocal obligations required

        That’s obviously not going to happen in our society where localities are trying to give the vote to illegal and legal non citizens, and are trying to restore the vote to felons automatically. But the electorate makes the nation,and you can see the sad results of that all around you..

        Mike Street Station

        September 30, 2014 at 9:38 AM

      • In a perfect world, I would prefer the Starship Troopers type Republic, in which you have to earn your right to vote via some kind of service,

        Does the Republic come with coed showers in Southern Brazil (yes I’m going off the pitiful movie; albeit the only good scenes from it)?

        The Undiscovered Jew

        September 30, 2014 at 11:07 PM

  11. pilots are the upper class of the military.

    they make much much more money and also are in little danger.

    source: I’m in the air force.


    September 29, 2014 at 6:11 PM

    • I worked with an airline pilot, former military fighter pilot, who was laid off after 9/11. He was a nice guy, but not upper class.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      September 29, 2014 at 6:57 PM

      • Lion, did you just turn into a woman who thinks the one exception she knows disproves the rule?

        e.g. ” My fifty year old friend had a healthy baby.”

        Robert the Wise

        September 30, 2014 at 7:22 AM

    • The generals are the upper class of the military. Just think of Petraeus who probably never fought a real combat and now has a high paying teaching gig. Plus, he screwed around with women as few of the unexpected perks.


      September 29, 2014 at 7:09 PM

      • And one of the top perks, he’s also working for the prestigious KKR investment firm.


        September 29, 2014 at 7:12 PM

      • If I recall correctly, Generals make over $200K and six-figure pensions when they retire!

        E. Rekshun

        September 30, 2014 at 1:30 PM

      • Hardly. The skipper of the carrier I was on walked around with a spittoon. Guy was salty.

        love from the west coast

        October 1, 2014 at 7:01 AM

    • Aircraft carrier pilots are the craziest daredevils but also the best pilots of any branch.

      The Undiscovered Jew

      September 29, 2014 at 9:02 PM

      • Yes. They do crave danger. But they are pussies compared to the real men of the fleet, the divers.

        love from the west coast

        October 1, 2014 at 7:03 AM

  12. A friend of mine who achieved a Masters Degree in Neuroscience signed up for the National Guard (to help pay back student loans). The reception to this fact among the bay area hipster milieu in which he dates has been negative he claims, confirming what Lion writes here. I for one think it’s cool, being counterintuitive and unexpected and all. How many bicycle riding foodies have handled a grenade?

    As for the proleness of the military, yep. I recall said friend saying he had trouble admitting to his boot camp buddies that he’d watched The Crying Game on Netflix. “That’s fucking gay!”


    September 29, 2014 at 6:25 PM

    • I’m embarrassed that I saw it. Stupid and pointless movie.


      September 30, 2014 at 12:09 AM

      • I saw it too when it came out in 1992. My date unsuccessfully tried to goad me into saying the light-skinned black trans-sexual was attractive. I could tell she was a he from the adams apple and the hands.

        E. Rekshun

        September 30, 2014 at 1:34 PM

  13. If officers can be middle class, what about high-IQ military jobs that don’t require a college degree, like linguists or people in a nuclear program?

    When my college dropout brother joined the Navy, both options were open to him. He decided to become a linguist and has since become fluent in Chinese. He was raised in a mixed middle to upper-middle class town and comes off like you’d expect a person from his background to, but IMO, his current profession is unquestionably prole. Plus, he married an RN, which sort of seals the prole deal.


    September 29, 2014 at 6:36 PM

    • The jobs you mentioned are what Paul Fussell would call “high prole”.


      September 29, 2014 at 7:47 PM

    • Here is the huge issue with wealth inequality that makes america so shitty. Your brother should not be punished economically regarding his kids due to choosing less remunerative endeavors even though he is clearly intelligent. So while your brother (and his wife) might have non-prole characteristics, it’ll be tough to keep said kids from experiencing prole drift due to the environment/surroundings they’ll be raised in which is driven by economic factors.


      September 29, 2014 at 7:53 PM

    • Nuke/linguist type jobs are for rural area high IQ whites who don’t know better. Hopelessly prole.

      But there are good jobs for nukes/linguists after service, so being prole doesn’t work out too poorly financially. Better an ex-nuke making 200k as homer simpson in a nuclear plant than an ex-art major from brown making peanuts at a non-profit.


      September 29, 2014 at 8:10 PM

      • In general, it’s great to be “prole” and making six figures. I bet the average blue collar guy making what Lion makes is happier than Lion. No regrets about going to the wrong law school, or envy about the TOOS.

        Dave Pinsen

        September 30, 2014 at 4:48 AM

      • Agreed, Dave. On average, upper-middle class people are liberal and incredibly boring to hang out with. If you’re a smart prole with a high paying job, life is probably a lot more satisfying. Plus, proles can feel morally and intellectually superior to their social “betters” simply by paying attention to class differences that the upper-middle class pretends to ignore. Lion’s blog is a great resource for smart proles. Unless he’s changed his name and I haven’t noticed, I wish “High Prole and Proud” would post again.


        September 30, 2014 at 5:56 PM

      • @Dave Pinson: In general, it’s great to be “prole” and making six figures.

        Probably true. An old high school friend skipped college and, with his father’s help, got into the sheet metal workers’ union in MA right after high school. He just tracked me down to tell me about his $400K waterfront vacation home on the Intracoastal in FL, and his new 21′ Boston Whaler. He’s retiring next year as a multi-millionaire at age 50 + a union pension. In 1983, his father showed me his end-of-year pay stub from the union ($65K!) as he tried to convince me to drop out of my Computer Science college degree program and join the union. But that would have been prole.

        E. Rekshun

        September 30, 2014 at 7:26 PM

    • No your college dropout brother is not prole, he is simply living the life of the heroes of those romantic comedies that would have been made if the Hollywood elite were not focused on getting laid by showing how superior they are to people with real and satisfying jobs. By the way when you are living that kind of life you absolutely do not care if the losers and hipsters and lotharios are making movies about you or not. If you cannot understand an alternate slightly better universe, disregard this comment.

      helps to understand America

      September 29, 2014 at 11:12 PM

    • My cousin’s ex-husband served ten years as an enlisted sailor in the Royal British Navy and trained as a nuclear plant operator. He left the RBN after marrying my cousin in the early ’90s, got his US residency, and immediately got a $80K per year job in a US nuclear plant. He now makes well over $100K. No college degree, but he’s got in-demand credentials.

      E. Rekshun

      September 30, 2014 at 7:17 PM

  14. A couple of points to consider:

    1. You do have to have a college degree to make it into the senior enlisted ranks
    2. You have to have a graduate degree of some kind (usually an MBA) to get promoted above Major in the officer ranks
    3. The southeast is overrepresented among military personnel, but the largest individual recruit source remains the New York City area. The misconception that all the enlisted personnel in the military are from the south is just that. To be fair, these are usually diploma mill degrees, just like those of other government employees
    4. Being a military officer generally will put you pretty high up the corporate ladder when you separate. Extremely high if you’re a flag grade officer
    5. Officers come primarily from upper middle class homes
    6. You may be focusing too much on career personnel rather than those who spend some time in the military then move on. My service as a military officer was essentially grad school for what I do now, and that was pretty common for company grade officers when I was in

    I’m not going to disagree with you that enlisted military service is prole, but I’d argue that in recent times it gotten less so, not more. Also, your view of the military as a value transference occupation may be too narrow. There’s considerable value in intimidating enemies into working with you, or at least into not working counter to your interests. The thing is, if the military is engaged in combat, it’s not doing this, at least not efficiently. A large military that’s not involved in combat is doing it’s job, and it’s considerably cheaper than one that is involved in combat. Many of our political leaders don’t seem to understand that.


    September 29, 2014 at 7:10 PM

    • Being a military officer generally will put you pretty high up the corporate ladder when you separate.

      My employer (900 employees) just hired a retired Air Force Colonel as the new IT Manager to run the 18-person IT shop, at $100K per year.

      E. Rekshun

      September 30, 2014 at 7:36 PM

      • $100K, where? In NYC, $100K is nothing. Outside of NYC, $100K still buys you a boring life.


        September 30, 2014 at 7:48 PM

      • Some commentator responded to my post and said this: Who wants to be a poor self actualizing intellectual and lead a celibate life? I ask, who wants to be a high earning corporate chump with a stressful job.

        And the final result: America is a sh*tty place for a first world country.


        September 30, 2014 at 7:57 PM

      • And joining the military no matter how prestigious, is a prole thing. It’s really the only way to secure a good paying job besides law enforcement, for someone with a prole backround.

        I don’t know man, the blue pill is America’s favorite drug. In other countries, people would have taken the streets to take on the elites for their abusiveness. In America, people of all walks of life just can’t let go of that Iphone or they need an upgrade.


        September 30, 2014 at 8:04 PM

      • Is that a troll? That’s about what a Captain on flying status effectively makes. Most of the Captains (O-3s to Navy personnel) I know who have separated got hired for more than that, in some cases way more. A Colonel would normally make a lot more than that in the private sector, unless you’re talking about a part time job, a “lifestyle” job, or something else of value to the individual.


        October 1, 2014 at 4:19 PM

  15. My definition of a non-prole job or career is pretty simple- one that requires significant thinking, either strategically or tactically. So, police officer is prole, because it just involves coercing people. What none of us here know is to what extent military positions allow any kind of thinking beyond when to pull the trigger. This is especially true in an era when we suspect that the civilian authorities directing the military are charlatans and posteurs, affecting phony expertise. Plus they’re control freaks, which means even someone with true military or diplomatic expertise might never get a chance to perform. OTOH if you’re a trial lawyer, you get to know how good you really are.


    September 29, 2014 at 7:59 PM

  16. First, I’d like to point out that your buddy Paul Fussell beat you to the punch on this one, Lion.

    From your “value transference” perspective, the military must have become declasse after military conquest/colonialism became an ineffective means of value transference.

    There’s no question that enlisted men are now and always have been prole. However, modern soldiers are less prole than their frequently bottom-out-of-sight historical counterparts. Even grunts tend towards being “high proles”, if anything.

    There is no question that officers are middle class, all the signs are there: they are responsible for administrative work, they have status anxiety, and they cannot maintain their lifestyles without their wages. I would argue, though, that most officers were historically middle class (disclaimer: my main historical referent are the British). This is because a) large (post-medieval) armies required a substantial amount of clerical work to run and b) there just weren’t enough upper class men to officer large armies all the way down to the subalterns. Informal social mechanisms and a willingness to ennoble particularly outstanding middling officers meant that the generals were members of the upper class, however. This sort of trickled down and gave officer corps a sheen of upper-class prestige and demeanor. This is definitely no longer the case. This has been accompanied by a decrease in the class status of weapons in general, which I think is cause by the ascendance of the merchant/barrister class.


    September 29, 2014 at 8:04 PM

    • I thought you were going to point to Fussell’s comment in The Great War and Modern Memory that thirty-six years of near continuous warfare (he was writing in the 1970s) compared to the near 100 years of peace prior to WWI (for the British) changed the perspective of all classes towards war, especially the upper classes.


      September 30, 2014 at 12:17 AM

    • “From your “value transference” perspective, the military must have become declasse after military conquest/colonialism became an ineffective means of value transference. ”

      Military service became declasse after the ruling class stopped valuing their own civilization and started hating their own people (courtesy of YKW and the Frankfurt School).

      No point in joining the military if the military is defending a society you don’t think worthy of defense

      Robert the Wise

      September 30, 2014 at 7:39 AM

  17. I am sure that the introduction of women into the military has also contributed to it becoming a lower-status occupation, especially with single motherhood running rampant among women serving in the Navy.

    On a somewhat related note, the 1954 movie “The Caine Mutiny” portrayed an upper class momma’s boy, Ens. Willie Keith, as one of Cmdr. Philip Queeg’s skeptics. Interestingly enough, the obviously prole Cmdr. Queeg was played by Humphrey Bogart, an upper middle class New Englander known for playing tough guys. Keith was played by Robert Francis, who was killed in a small plane crash about a year later.

    Sgt. Joe Friday

    September 29, 2014 at 8:10 PM

  18. “Service as an officer is equivalent to the prestige of a police officer with a college degree, at the bottom level of middle class, because you can be killed while doing your job.”

    Nah, it’s more prestigious than that. I imagine that most police officers with college degrees went to directional / second tier state schools and I can also imagine that a bunch went to terrible private or for-profit colleges. The military academies are actually respectable and reasonably selective schools.

    I think the big issue is that there isn’t an elite, highly selective officer training program – something comparable to Harvard/Stanford/MIT in terms of admissions. It would also make sense to have this carry over into DOD employment. The only really elite core in the DOD is mathematics / computer science at the NSA and I think that most (all?) of their people don’t do their undergraduate/graduate studies at a DOD institution.


    September 29, 2014 at 8:37 PM

    • Most military officers didn’t go to the national academies. But I knew one officer in my army reserve unit who had gone to West Point. He sold electronics or something in civilian life.

      Dave Pinsen

      September 30, 2014 at 9:37 AM

  19. “Service as an officer is equivalent to the prestige of a police officer with a college degree, at the bottom level of middle class, because you can be killed while doing your job.”

    I read Paul Fussell as well. I liked Class. You seem to be, with all due respect, a fanatic. Maybe read another book?


    September 29, 2014 at 8:41 PM

  20. When I was younger, it was known to the college-bound crowd that joining the army was something you did if you couldn’t afford college and couldn’t get a job. Or if you had issues with immigration because apparently, it could help you get a green card.

    It was generally believed that joining the army was ghetto and a last resort, like cutting the mold off bread. People under 30 do talk about it openly, especially if they’re liberal.

    ‘Educated’ people openly aired anti-military and anti-war views, the view that companies like Blackwater are “evil”, and tried to get recruiters expelled from colleges. I mean all races said this not just white people from the burbs. It’s kind of sad.

    Miss Minnie

    September 29, 2014 at 9:30 PM

  21. The military is an intellectual wasteland. The service academies cannot compete with the Ivies and tier one schools for the best and brightest anymore, not with the prestige of the former or scholarships of the latter. The officer corps is staunchly middle class with a sprinkling of upper class, swpl and toos. You can still tell the officers from the enlisted, when out of uniform 9/10ths of the time.


    September 29, 2014 at 9:36 PM

    • The US Air Force Academy ranks 77th in the nation for top SAT scores of entering freshmen and it is the highest ranking of the military academies. West Point is 98 and the Naval Academy is 99.


      September 30, 2014 at 12:24 AM

      • So it’s like a good quality state school and is not like an Ivy League school.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        September 30, 2014 at 9:21 AM

      • The military academies have NAM quotas, so they have a higher NAM % than the Ivies.

        Dave Pinsen

        September 30, 2014 at 9:39 AM

      • @Pinsen:

        The NAM gap isn’t that large between west point and harvard. That’s not the reason.


        September 30, 2014 at 1:17 PM

  22. “An officer and a gentleman” is now “an officer or a gentleman.”

    Mark Caplan

    September 29, 2014 at 9:38 PM

  23. The Theory of the Leisure Class, the people who do real work always have the lowest level of prestige.’

    Not always. The slogan of Novorossia is ‘Воля и Труд’ – meaning Liberty and Labor. There is a religious Zions movement ‘תורה ועבודה’ – meaning Torah and Labor. In these societies productive labor has the highest level of prestige.

    Nor everything in life lends itself to categorization as prove or elite. Is being a volunteer firefighter or volunteer paramedic prole? The army, likewise, is supposed to cross be a unifying national institution. The expressions associated with the military are ‘to serve’, ‘military service’, ‘tour of duty’, ‘comrades or brothers in arms’. When the army becomes a mercenary force all about money, college credits and other benefits it indicates a decaying civilization.


    September 29, 2014 at 9:45 PM

  24. The military is prole, but has its upside. I was in 3rd Ranger Battalion, and it was a great way to pay for college and learn controlled aggression. I go to a 100% STEM school and none of the dorks can stand up to bullying or pass job interviews. They end up working crap jobs doing coding because none of the alphas from the oil companies want a whiny wimp around. If you’re a prole and passive you should recognize this and play sports or join the military. Otherwise alphas will take your jobs and all the good wives. RLTW!


    September 29, 2014 at 9:56 PM

    • “3rd Ranger Battalion”

      Frickin badass. Respect the hell out of that man.


      October 1, 2014 at 8:00 AM

  25. “We need people to volunteer [sic] for the military”

    Stop it. People no more volunteer for the military than you volunteer your time to your employer. All this yap about “volunteer” soldiers is just so much sentimentality that serves both the Democraps (Oh, these poor selfless young women and men who are abused by evil Republicans to fight pointless foreign wars!) and the Repukes (O these wonderful patriots volunteering to serve our country in Her time of need!). The modern American military is paid, mercenary, professional. It’s not like they’re volunteers who clean up roadside trash on the weekends for free.


    September 29, 2014 at 11:11 PM

    • Damn, Browndar! No need to be bitter just because you couldn’t pass the entrance physical.

      Yes. Volunteers expect to be compensated, especially if they are going to devote two years or more to the military. Volunteer doesn’t only mean “work for free”. Try looking up the definition.

      OK. You can go back to being a whiny, jealous bitch now.

      Robert the Wise

      September 30, 2014 at 7:50 AM

    • An army of local conscripts would be less likely to be used against its own people. It’s interesting that 2nd amendment advocates dint grok the danger of a ‘volunteer’ military.

      Dave Pinsen

      September 30, 2014 at 9:42 AM

      • The Libertarians sure do. They successfully pushed the volunteer military but also full arming of the people. In the US they basically reversed 2nd Amendment interpretation and have gotten concealed carry in all states. Stay tuned.


        September 30, 2014 at 12:11 PM

  26. It wasn’t always so:

    The list of dead is long. And I expect the Harvard dead are not generals.

    It is not that the military is prole so much as the Ivy League elite is now cosseted, commercial and cosmopolitan. But all it will take is another War for Survival to change that.

    U.S. Grant was prole. So were Phil Sheridan and Sherman. Eisenhower was midwestern prole as was Patton. Chamberlain was New England prole–a petty schoolteacher from a dinky Maine college. Even Napoleon was a prole.

    In fact most if not all of our great military men were proles since there are so many more proles than elite and military service in time of war rewards ability and performance, not elite banker status.

    None of them would have risen to any great or memorable height without the challenges their wars thrust upon them. But that is the curse and blazing of the American military: to serve democratically elected politicians, like Obama, and not to become a caudillo as Hispanics perennially do.


    September 29, 2014 at 11:13 PM

    • Napoleon was an aristocrat by birth, certainly not a prole of any sort. He is famous for his spectacular rise in social status but he didn’t start out “prole”, he started our in the lower aristocracy.

      On Patton wikipedia says his family owned a ranch which means he’s definitely not prole. If the ranch was big then he was essentially an American equivalent of a nobleman.

      etc. I have to wonder where the hell people are getting their ideas of “prole” because owning *any* land has historically been the surest sign of high status and often only possible through aristocratic privilege. The vast majority of Europeans were historically serfs or tenants on farms. A lord may be from the countryside but he is not prole, he is the man who might literally own the proles.

      Military careers were also historically an aristocratic elite privilege. European royalty descends from illiterate warriors who made themselves kings over the literate monks and traders. If the American elite snubs military careers means that the American elite is done for. The warrior class is never a servant class for very long and any elite that separates itself from the warriors will eventually face the hard truth that all power in the end comes from the capability to organize violence.

      This blog has a lot of people who determine status according to some self-contained rules where everything that isn’t New York finance or law is “prole”, forgetting that the only reason self-contained worlds like New York exist is because they’re protected by the American system. For most of history lawyers, traders and scribes have been a class of servants – better off than the maids but still servants. The court Jew may have been smarter the King but the court Jew was still servant and the King was master. A society where the willing warriors are not considered elite will not survive as the warriors will simply make themselves the elite when they get tired of the society.

      Jaakko Raipala

      September 30, 2014 at 4:38 AM

      • Owning a family ranch sounds middle class, unless it’s a huge enterprise pulling in $200K+/year of income. (Of course, adjust that downward for inflation if you have the actual amount of money that Patton’s ranch pulled in.)

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        September 30, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    • George S. Patton is generally regarded as upper class. He was a descendant of the Mercers (who lent their name to Mercer County, NJ, home of Princeton University). He attended private schools and married into a monied, old Boston, Mass., family.

      Mark Caplan

      September 30, 2014 at 6:48 AM

    • Actually, Patton came from an wealthy, elite southern California family.

      Sgt. Joe Friday

      September 30, 2014 at 10:53 AM

    • A few details from Patton’s wikipedia entry:

      He descended from Hugh Mercer, who had been killed in the Battle of Princeton during the American Revolution. His paternal grandfather was George Smith Patton who commanded the 22nd Virginia Infantry in the Civil War. Patton’s father graduated from the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), but did not pursue a military career, instead becoming a lawyer and later the district attorney of Los Angeles County. Patton’s maternal grandfather was Benjamin Davis Wilson, who had been Mayor of Los Angeles and a successful merchant. He grew up on a 2,000 acre ranch where was privately tutored before enrolling at a private boys school. Patton was described as an intelligent boy and was widely read on classical military history and was known in his adult life to be an avid reader.

      To summarize, Patton was born to an upper class Southern family with an extensive military background that moved to California.


      September 30, 2014 at 12:12 PM

      • He sounds pretty upper class. But someone with a background like that today would not serve in the military. He’d go to Harvard and then get a job in venture capital or maybe work for the NY Times or a non-profit.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        September 30, 2014 at 4:40 PM

      • TOOS and southern are contradictories for the NE Establishment.

        It wasn’t just granny Lee. The South has always produced more than its fair share of military heroes.

        First Ypres

        September 30, 2014 at 9:30 PM

      • Leon

        I’d tend to agree but not in Patton’s case. He was preoccupied with military figures and history from a young age. Patton was particularly upset when learning of the end of the war against Japan, writing in his diary, “Yet another war has come to an end, and with it my usefulness to the world.” He was going to become a soldier and a general no matter what.


        October 1, 2014 at 3:01 AM

    • Napoleon was born into very low ranking aristocracy. By today’s standards his family would have been considered middle to upper middle class, not anything close to royalty.

      The Undiscovered Jew

      September 30, 2014 at 8:23 PM

      • And an island trash to the eyes of Habsburgs and the noblemen at London.

        toos is god

        October 2, 2014 at 6:17 PM

  27. This post was brilliant. “In the distant past, military service was a value transference occupation.” That is spot on. That’s exactly what it was in the pre-Civil War era, when appointments to West Point were political plums handed out to rural elites, and the most sought-after assignment after graduation was to the Corps of Engineers.

    The one thing I would point out is that proleness is a social class marker, not a value judgment. Many of the proles who serve in the military are exceptionally competent and dedicated people. Not everyone in the military deserves those accolades, but many do. In fact, military service is a way for working class screwups to elevate themselves. Many of my high school classmates found themselves flunking out of community college and working at a retail store or a call center at the age of 19. Some of those folks joined the military in an effort to get their lives together, and that strategy frequently succeeded. And this was in peacetime. The people who join the military today face a real possibility of being maimed or killed overseas, something that my childhood friends did not face. We should all respect the courage of people who enlist today.

    There is still a tradition of military service among some subsets of the TOOS, but Lion is correct – it’s clearly waning. My kids go to a school attended by the children of the TOOS and there are a surprising number of recent graduates who are in the military. Interestingly, many of them are in SEALs and Special Forces, something that I never associated with the TOOS. But this tradition is clearly fading, sadly. In my grandmother’s day elites were expected to “do their part,” and serve with courage and distinction. That just isn’t the norm any more, and our society is worse off as a result, IMO.

    Also, based on the experiences of my friends and relatives who joined the military, “soft” skills such as social graces matter a lot when it comes to the opportunities for promotions in the officer ranks. If you are a working-class guy who managed to get a commission after graduating from Fourth Rate State U, you’ll be at a disadvantage compared to your peers who went to the Academy and are the sons of generals, admirals, and professional-class civilians. The officers schmooze just like civilians do, and knowing how to work a room and make small talk at a cocktail party means a great deal. You can overcome this disadvantage with exceptional competence, but you are definitely at a disadvantage. In the officer ranks, like everywhere else, social skills matter. They don’t seem to make as much difference for the enlisted guys, most of the senior enlisteds have good social skills too, but stability and reliability seem to be the most important factors.

    Man, this is a great post. It is dead on.

    Joe Schmoe

    September 29, 2014 at 11:31 PM

    • In my understanding, “social skills” are all about projecting status.


      September 30, 2014 at 2:55 AM

    • The feudal aristocrcay wasn’t feudal for very long, about three centuries. Ever since the 14th c the poor have been doing most of the fighting.

      There may still be a tradition for the British upper class to serve in the military. In Britain upper class means titled/nobility not necessarily rich.

      First Ypres

      September 30, 2014 at 9:32 PM

      • Those titles often include property rights. And the tradition of military service extends to the royal family.

        Dave Pinsen

        October 1, 2014 at 2:13 AM

  28. I sure hope young White boys start realizing the folly of going to war for an elite class that hates them.

    John A

    September 29, 2014 at 11:52 PM

    • I’ve attended a talk given by a woman not too long ago who was very honest and non-PC with the social pathologies in America affecting the average White guy. She basically said most guys in America are f*cked, White guys being on top of the list, for those who are not part of the value transference scheme.

      Here are they’re (you might disagree):

      1) No female companion to seek comfort in terms of crisis (Women aren’t interested in men who they don’t know via a social circle and female social circles are just like the elite gatekeeping mechanisms).
      2) The average salary for a mental health professional in America is about 35K/year (counselors have no incentive to help people).
      3) Credit card offers are basically salary bonuses where you have to paid back with interest.
      4) Military is the only option for a good paying career for those without connections.
      5) Those who attend low tier colleges generally don’t have to pay back student loans, and thus are kept out of the job market.
      6) The dominance of NAMs in low service sector jobs is a permanent fixture.

      You could say America is a pretty ruthless country. Pretty meaning things appearing nice and dandy, but they aren’t, sort like the proverbial phrase of the frog bathing in boiling water.


      October 1, 2014 at 11:12 AM

      • And by the way, most of my female friends are European expatriates here in the states. Good luck finding desirable American women who like hanging out with you if you aren’t a guy who is “alpha”.


        October 1, 2014 at 6:47 PM

  29. I think as the diplomatic corps and intelligence agencies grew, it took those ‘higher iq’/well-bred kids away from the officer corp who still wanted to ‘serve’ in some manner.

    Why go to OCS when you can write the FSOT and become an FSO? I would say FSO selection is tougher than OCS (certainly percentage wise it is).

    So is core collector recruiting or even DI-Analyst.


    September 30, 2014 at 2:10 AM

    • Anecdotal evidence, I know 40 to 50 OCS graduates fairly well, and 5 to 10 “FSO” types fairly well. First group – fun to be around, lots of unexpected jokes, little worry about unusual forms of conflict. Second group – almost always not as fun, not as funny, and lots of unanticipated condescension.

      helps to understand America

      September 30, 2014 at 11:24 PM

  30. Even hipster girls will take a second look at a young officer in naval dress whites. It is just a law of nature.

    Peter Akuleyev

    September 30, 2014 at 2:26 AM

    • I think so. I’ve always found men in uniforms very sexy. Don’t know why, though. But then I’m hardly one to judge most women by – I once admitted an attraction to Gilbert Gottfried – not what you’d call a babe-magnet type. I’m probably the only woman in America who’d rather give some to Gottfried than Brad Pitt or George Clooney!


      September 30, 2014 at 10:01 PM

      • I wouldn’t expect any women whom George Clooney or B Pritt find attractive reading LoftB.


        October 1, 2014 at 11:17 AM

      • JS, I think you know I was trying to illustrate how strange my taste in men is, not trying to claim that famous good-looking male celebrities would find me appealing. My “Gottfried over Clooney and Pitt” scenario was hypothetical.


        October 2, 2014 at 9:12 PM

  31. It is form of slavery (voluntary or not – does not matter), so it is below prole.


    September 30, 2014 at 3:57 AM

  32. OT: I dare anyone to find a legitimate (i.e. non-parody) website more prole than the one I just stumbled upon:


    September 30, 2014 at 4:52 AM

    • Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it.


      September 30, 2014 at 1:47 PM

      • All in good fun. The lifestyle isn’t completely foreign to me. One side of my family was involved with Ag and the great outdoors and I participated with full enthusiasm as a youth.


        September 30, 2014 at 7:34 PM

    • If it’s not vulpicide on horseback it’s prole.

      Rural and especially rural South = prole.

      But fly fishing isn’t prole.

      First Ypres

      September 30, 2014 at 9:35 PM

      • And Southerners view the Northeast as full of wanna be newcomers with envy problems. Most southerners are well aware that they beat any other part of the country in terms of percent of old stock families. The Northeast, with its pathetic Mayflower conceits, tries to play up family histories that are few and far between and wildly exaggerated. The New Englanders were, for the most part, the dregs of early American (compared to the South where Virginia was the diamond of the colonies). In the South, 11 generations is nothing. To the extent there are families derived from the lesser sons of the British nobility, they are located in the South (particularly the Tidewater).


        October 1, 2014 at 1:33 AM

      • South became known for plantations and slavery. All progress in scientific, technological and commercial endeavors came from the North.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        October 1, 2014 at 9:18 AM

      • “South became known for plantations and slavery. All progress in scientific, technological and commercial endeavors came from the North.” —————————

        So what? In the South, as in many other societies, social status comes from your bloodline. Members of the social elite in the South will sometimes tell stories of the frustrated new money Yankees who move down for the weather and are excluded from high society (after all, which notable 17th century name do they possess?). Southerners view Yankee nouveau riche (which is how they view virtually all Yankees) the way old money WASPs in NYC viewed new money Jews in the 40s and 50s. Money doesn’t buy everything. The Tidewater elite have something the Yankee innovator will never have; a distinguished bloodline. Same as the English aristocracy advantage over Mr. Branson or whomever.


        October 1, 2014 at 10:51 AM

      • Curle

        Part of it is family background. But part of it is simply manners. Leon likes to talk about the “guidos” of Staten Island. I can’t speak to that because I’ve never been there. But the Italians I’ve known have been very warm and friendly. Jews with deep roots in the South are as well. But those from New York often leave a lot to be desired. I’m not the only one who’s noticed, either. Maybe it’s acceptable where they’re from but it doesn’t go over very well other places.


        October 2, 2014 at 3:47 AM

      • That’s all true to an extent.

        But the most well mannered/polite people live in West Coast cities. They’re even more polite than Mid Westerners. And surprising to NEers they speak even more slowly than Southerners.


        And Mayflower passengers’ descendants live all over. I’m a direct descendant of William Bradford along with thousands of others iirc.

        The problem with Southern “manners” is it’s so obviously fake. But, my God, NYers are the rudest mo’fo’s unless it’s UES, UWS, Midtown, and then they’re very polite.

        I’ve got two relatives in the South:

        1. Local government employee, stupid, dishonest, Republican.
        2. Businessman (industrial distribution), read the whole of À la recherche, smart (but with a super thick accent) Democrat.

        The Solid South used to mean solid for the Dems.

        First Ypres

        October 3, 2014 at 12:37 AM

      • Well, it’s well proven that people in the Northeast are generally unhappy or not satisfied. I assume the greediest and most condescending people reside in the Northeast. Or, any liberal city means more frowns.


        October 4, 2014 at 10:18 AM

  33. Prior to the Selective Service Act the rich could explicitly pay fees to avoid the draft. So I think theres a clear history of military service being prole in this country.


    September 30, 2014 at 5:59 AM

    • Yes, you could buy your way out of the draft; no, military service wasn’t always seen as prole. The officers of civil war volunteer regiments were often local elites – editors, lawyers, professors, etc. One of the most celebrated officers of the Civil War was a professor before the war, Joshua Chamberlain.

      Dave Pinsen

      October 1, 2014 at 2:17 AM

  34. “Military service wasn’t always prole. In fact, just the opposite. In the distant past, military service was a value transference occupation. Soldiers, when they are not at war, just sit around the barracks doing nothing and living off the largess of people doing the real work that provides them with food, uniforms, and weaponry.”


    Um. No. Any army that operated this way would be out of business as soon as hostilities began. As a former soldier, I can tell you any decent army trains all the time. The effectiveness of any military force comes not from a handful of Rambo/Leonidas badasses operating on their own but from large groups of ordinary men working together AS A TEAM. That takes time and training so most armies spend most of their time training. This is as true today as it was in the time of Alexander or Sun Tzu. Any time not spent training is spent building barracks, fortifications, or other necessary structures, or repairing/taking care of equipment, armor, uniforms, etc.

    Robert the Wise

    September 30, 2014 at 7:07 AM

  35. Well, if the military is prole, then the civil population is lumpenproletariat or even subhuman.

    The fact is that there is an IQ cutoff for entry into the military: 85 or more for the Army and 90 or more for the other services. This alone disqualifies a majority of blacks and Mexicans and at least 20% or so of whites. People with criminal records, histories of drug abuse and those lacking a high school education are also excluded.

    Then there is the education issue. It has already been pointed out above that all senior officers are expected to have a graduate degrees, and many flag officers have a Ph. D. So many in fact that it has become an issue. Petraeus has publicly disputed the value of Ph. D. degrees for flag officers. Nowadays, a large percentage of senior NCO’s have college degrees, and there are even senior sergeants serving in Afghanistan with MA/MS degrees.

    So, on average, the people in the military have higher IQ’s, are much better educated, and have better ethics and morals than the average civilian. They are also in better condition and health. They are another country, separated from the general population in all sorts of ways. A return to the draft would seriously degrade the ability of the military to do its job.

    This does not obviate the fact that the bulk of the military have their origins in the working class and lower middle class, but the military has skimmed the cream from these groups. The fact that the middle and upper classes no longer serve is, in fact, a problem for the middle and upper classes, because it results in a greater alienation between civilians and military. The military will have no compunctions about gunning down civilian demonstrators if push comes to shove. Kent State is both a warning and our future. Moreover, the modern military can shoot straight. If the Ohio NG had weapons skills in 1970, hundreds of students would have died.

    There is also the issue that the Ruling Class, virtually none of whom have served, is alienated front the military. Obama is the great warning signal here. A military coup d’etat is increasingly likely in the US. If it happens, the troops will also gladly gun down the Senators and Representatives and senior civil servants.

    Recent polls have shown that about one-fourth of the civilians in every State would like to see their State secede from the Union. This indicates that a significant fraction of the population believes the federal government is illegitimate. They would support a coup and that would ensure its success.

    The military has also managed to re-segregate itself. The closer you get to the point of the spear, the higher the percentage of white males. Special forces are nearly lily white and all male. The senior Army officers are greatly concerned that nearly all the West Point graduates choosing the infantry are white men. Women, blacks and Hispanics are generally relegated to logistics and support units, usually by choice. So the point of the spear is much more racially and culturally homogeneous than the military as a whole and very much more than the civilian population. How does this affect the loyalty of the infantry? Infantry troops notoriously fight for each other, not the country, so how willing would they be to participate in a coup?

    bob sykes

    September 30, 2014 at 8:23 AM

    • A well written comment. I agree that in a lot of ways, the military is another country all together.Demographically, there is segregation, but it’s segregation based on ASVAB test scores and inclination. Pre 9/11, the Army was about 30% black, but for the combat arms, probably less than 5% were black. That had to do with Blacks choosing the military as a career, rather than, as I had previously posted, getting college money and getting their man card stamped.

      Post 9/11, the Army is about 21% black. It’s less attractive as a career than the previous peace time Army.

      Mike Street Station

      September 30, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    • Very interesting post.

      It’s been so long since a coup in a first world country, but it happens all the time (look at thailand).
      There’s nothing stopping it here except for the vast size of the U.S.


      September 30, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    • “Recent polls have shown that about one-fourth of the civilians in every State would like to see their State secede from the Union. This indicates that a significant fraction of the population believes the federal government is illegitimate. They would support a coup and that would ensure its success.”

      I’m not seeing the problem. Otherwise, very well said.


      September 30, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    • “They are also in better condition and health.”

      My understanding is 30% of potential military applicants are turned away because they’re too fat. I’m not sure how there could be a draft today with 70% of adults overweight or obese, unless the gov’t instituted weight loss camps for draftees.

      As far as race, the elite units do indeed seem to be all white. There’s a National Geographic series about pararescuemen, IIRC they were all white. They also came across as highly intelligent & a bit nerdy- their call to action alarm was a WoW reference.

      I don’t know enough about military demographics to say they are with a broad stroke prole, I’ve known people from both lower and upper strata who enter the military, the latter usually coming from families with generations of service. As has been mentioned, women in the military has tarnished its image (why exactly I’m not sure; the same phenomena occurs when religious institutions open their doors to female leadership) but the greatest stigma is fallout from the countercultural era when anything associated with militarism was deemed in bad taste, low, and unedified. In the eyes of the pedagogues, saying you’re voluntarily associated with the military is about as bad as saying you’re against gay marriage.

      slithy toves

      September 30, 2014 at 3:36 PM

  36. I think there’s more to it than that butI can’t put my finger on it


    September 30, 2014 at 9:10 AM

  37. +1. In flyover country, if your kid is an officer, and especially if he’s in Special Forces, it’s something to brag about, even among the upper-middle class. If she has a Masters in Public Policy and works for a notable think-tank, it’s less likely to be mentioned.

    I’ll add that, in my experience, the distinction between former officers and former enlisted men is night and day. Officers almost invariably possess certain personality traits — above-average IQ, confidence, politeness, physical fitness, and an agreeable nature — that make them popular and generally successful in business. As for enlisted men, well, I once had one show up to interview for an internship wearing a t-shirt and a gold chain.


    September 30, 2014 at 9:16 AM

  38. John Kerry was an officer, and served in Vietnam, as he so often has reminded us. Does that make Kerry prole?

    Sgt. Joe Friday

    September 30, 2014 at 10:55 AM

  39. Military service is a good resume builder for a career in politics and being a politician is elite and not prole. Also, in a society where perhaps a quarter do almost nothing at all and another quarter do things like retail and fast food, the military is quite a distance from the bottom.

    In addition, lots of ex military become armed and independent types, which can be a proud way of living.

    And more, the US federal civil service has an enormous preference for hiring veterans in all manner of agencies. In my agency the affirmative hiring adantage for veterans exceeds the affirmative hiring advantage for any other group. As you’ve noted, working for federal agencies is generally not prole.


    September 30, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    • Traditionally yes, but you see fewer politicians these days who served in the military. And the ones who did are prole, like the guido Congressman from Staten Island who threatened to beat up a reporter.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      September 30, 2014 at 4:38 PM

      • Your equivalence of military officers to cops doesn’t make much sense class-wise though. Beat cops tend to be former enlisted men, beat cops with college degrees are still beat cops, and the lowest ranking military officer is part of the military’s managerial class (NCOs joke that officers do no work; the joke has an element of truth to it in garrison).

        A better class analogy to military officers might be civil service managers – a police chief, a manager at the local utility, etc.

        Dave Pinsen

        October 1, 2014 at 2:23 AM

      • Yeah, that sounds right.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        October 1, 2014 at 9:19 AM

      • Being a politician these days is more about celebrity than being a man.

        Serving in the military is prole, but it’s still a certifiable stamp on one’s man card. If that stamp is alongside other important social markers, it still sends a clear signal of one’s disposition and personality. This still counts in some places. I do digress, the US is becoming more feminized every day. It never paid off more for a boy too keep acting like a boy well into his early 30s. It’s also possible for a man to climb socially without service markers these days. So why bother with service? We just don’t fight as much as we used to. That’s a good thing.

        love from the west coast

        October 1, 2014 at 7:31 AM

  40. It seems to not be prole to serve in the IDF even though you are American: Rahm Emmanuel did it, David Brooks’ kid is doing it…


    September 30, 2014 at 11:36 AM

  41. There’s a very good reason that the officer have historically been upper class. During the middle ages, the aristocracy was granted favor based on their usefulness to the king. This generally meant how well they could manage their lands for agriculture (hence taxes) and raise an army from among their serfs. While serfs were infantry, aristocracy were knights and officers. If you’re landed gentry then you really don’t want your serfs leading their own armies. This tradition continued up through the late 1800’s when it was still common for officers to purchase a commission. To be an officer was very much an upper class profession. Officers who didn’t purchase their commission were looked down on as not being a gentlemen. What’s more, an officer had to purchase his promotions and could be turned down if a senior officer didn’t find him of sufficient social background.

    The main reason officers were selected from the upper class was because the upper class had a vested interest in the status quo and less likely to lead a revolt. But it also reduced the incentive to abuse their authority or behave in a negligent or incompetent manner as they would be stripped of their commission and publicly disgraced. It was also thought that officers of private means were less likely to loot and pillage or cheat soldiers under their command by profiteering army supplies.

    Of course, we don’t have a powerful aristocracy or landed gentry today. The upper class maintains their position through free markets, special interests and elections. So the whole social and political structure which required military officers to be upper class no longer exists. What’s more. people have a lot more opportunity in a commercial economy (i.e. industrial, service, etc) than an agricultural one. If you’re smart enough to become a colonel or a general then you’re probably smart enough to be a VP or CEO and make more money.

    The connection between class and military officers is also hinted at in a lot of old war movies about 19th century British Empire. I recently saw a great example in The Four Feathers (1939). Those officers are clearly upper class and very well-connected.


    September 30, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    • If you’re smart enough to become a colonel or a general then you’re probably smart enough to be a VP or CEO and make more money.

      That was a good one!

      First Ypres

      September 30, 2014 at 9:37 PM

      • You don’t even believe in IQ. So what are you squawking about?


        October 1, 2014 at 4:57 AM

      • It’s not all about IQ. It’s about culture too.

        Schwartzkopff won the celebrity Jeopardy tourney one year.

        The military is so big that there are some very smart people in it, but “military intelligence” is still a contradiction in terms.

        And as Lion has posted, after a certain not very high threshold preferment in the corporate hierarchy has nothing to do with IQ.

        First Ypres

        October 3, 2014 at 12:43 AM

    • The capitalist class which arose in late 18th c Britain was never a martial one.

      It was only the landed.

      In fact, it has been said the Great War was yet another means whereby the bourgeoisie could eliminate its enemies. In this case by killing them.

      First Ypres

      September 30, 2014 at 9:39 PM

  42. You have to break it down by sector. White Protestants still value military service, even those of them who are more intelligent. You’ll notice many officers are White Protestant.


    September 30, 2014 at 12:54 PM

    • In the Northeast, I imagine you’d see a much higher service rate with elite Catholics than with elite WASPs.


      September 30, 2014 at 4:53 PM

      • Why do you have to throw out a cuss word? I specifically said White Protestant.


        September 30, 2014 at 7:09 PM

      • @ Dave

        Give me a break.


        September 30, 2014 at 8:10 PM

      • I specifically said White Protestant.

        WASP refers only to wealthy Northeastern Mainline Protestants. It does not refer to all the tens of millions of generic Anglo American Protestants. Howard Dean and David Souter are WASPs, Rick Perry and Palin are Evangelical proles and therefore not WASPs.

        Btw, Episcopalians have low rates of military service.

        The Undiscovered Jew

        September 30, 2014 at 8:21 PM

      • The descendants of the former NE WASP establishment basically gave up after WW II.

        What they want above all is just to be separate and not have to mix with anyone but themselves.

        First Ypres

        September 30, 2014 at 9:41 PM

      • Dave – Patton was a white protestant and his lifelong sense of being privileged got thousands of Allied soldiers kllled, because he relaxed in a situation where a real man would have not relaxed. (For non-military historians, just take my word on this ). The fact that he was able to make his way into a position of power in a war that his country won does not mean he was a success. It is very likely that many less privileged and tougher males would have done a better job, had they been given his random and unfair advantages. Changing the subject, you are of course correct, using four letters to describe a sub-group of Anglicans and Protestants (there is a difference) is morally wrong. On the other hand, the 90 percent or so level of support for abortion loving politicians in the areas of the country formerly populated by white protestants and Anglicans with a predominant connection to Anglo-Saxon bloodlines is not something decent people should ignore.

        helps to understand America

        September 30, 2014 at 9:59 PM

      • “WASP refers only to wealthy Northeastern Mainline Protestants. It does not refer to all the tens of millions of generic Anglo American Protestants”

        Actually, no. It refers to anyone who is white, Anglo-Saxon ethnically, and a member of a Protestant religion. Although there is a certain type of person who uses “Wasp” to refer to upper-crust Anglo-Saxon types only. Just as there are white ethnic proles who falsely imagine that middle American prole Wasps don’t suffer any injustices because they are from the same religion and ethnicity and have similar phenotypes to upper-crust moneyed old-stock Americans. My Mom is a perfect example. I told her once that the term Wasp also includes Midwestern farmers made fun of for being provincial and Southern whites who are made fun of mercilessly for just about everything. She said “that’s not a Wasp” and drew out the “ah” sound to try to pretend she wasn’t referring to “Wasp” but some other word. I wanted to tell her that making the word heavily accented didn’t make it anything other than the same word. But anyone who has a Sicilian-American mother knows better than to make her angry on any issue she considers “hot button. So I wisely kept my mouth shut.


        September 30, 2014 at 11:04 PM

      • It refers to anyone who is white, Anglo-Saxon ethnically,

        It does not refer to all Anglo Americans.

        Even the “Anglo” is misleading. French Huguenots (Du Pont), Dutch (Vanderbilt, Roosevelt) were Northeastern WASPs despite not being Anglo-Saxon.

        The Undiscovered Jew

        October 1, 2014 at 6:23 PM

      • Catholics who are also prolier, generally have lower IQs than Protestants. Individuals who brand themselves as social conservatives tend to have lower IQs, so perhaps Renault is correct to say that Northeastern Catholics are found in the military more than their WASP neighbors, but it’s not because of elitism, but of their prole background.


        October 2, 2014 at 11:09 AM

  43. Is White Protestant prole?


    September 30, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    • Not if its mainline or Quaker.

      If it’s Southern Baptist, Evangelical, or God forbid Pentecostal then yes.

      Times have changed, but in the 40s the NE Establishment was also called “The Episcopacy”, because most of them were Episcopalians. There are even a few families who still have royalist sentiments.

      First Ypres

      September 30, 2014 at 9:44 PM

  44. In 1986, after watching “Top Gun” right after it came out, I processed some preliminary paperwork and medical screening to become a Marine Corps pilot. My eyesight proved to be too poor to be a pilot, but they said I could be a navigator. I declined their offer and accepted a job as a software developer with a large government defense contractor.

    E. Rekshun

    September 30, 2014 at 1:38 PM

  45. Guy. It’s cultural.

    The military is basically spat upon and considered a place for people too stupid to make in the real world.

    First Ypres

    September 30, 2014 at 9:33 PM

    • America’s social inequality is all about education. Less stupid people have jobs and imbeciles can’t find work.


      October 1, 2014 at 10:07 AM

      • Nah, I can’t agree with that – I know quite a bit of intelligent people that are unemployed or underemployed. Labor markets are very inefficient in ‘matching’ outside of a few industries.


        October 2, 2014 at 1:16 AM

      • Also, America’s social inequality is also about middle class values. Dumber people are less inclined to show civility, which is really the gist of the problem in this country.


        October 2, 2014 at 2:42 PM

      • * I meant to say less educated people.


        October 2, 2014 at 2:45 PM

  46. The Spanish/Latin aristocracy has the right idea: One child each in the family business, sciences or law, and the military–and each in a different political party.


    October 1, 2014 at 10:18 AM

  47. Any job or duty that puts your life in danger is prole. Comparing America now and then is a moot issue. Americans were better 50 years ago in terms of status markers.


    October 1, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    • Any job or duty that puts your life in danger is prole

      Which essentially summarizes the whole problem. This is backwards. Think about knights of old, and the social contract that revolved around them and the peasants: “Sure, we’ll feed you, clothe you, work your land for you, call you ‘sir’, etc., etc. Now go die for us when need arises.” The extinguishing of violence and martial spirit amongst the upper class of any society is a sure sign of decline.

      Samson J.

      October 1, 2014 at 7:08 PM

  48. I can’t believe wasp has become so normalized. Could you imagine calling a Jewish person the Yiddish word for circle? It is the same thing.


    October 1, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    • I do it every day.


      October 1, 2014 at 9:19 PM

      • Yeah! If you’re Jewish, you can get away with using the Yiddish word for circle. That’s how Jewish people “make it their own.” Wait a minute. It’s Yiddish. It always was their own. That’s neither here nor there though. Apparently a White Protestant coined the W-word.


        October 2, 2014 at 1:49 PM

  49. Is being the Director of the Secret Service, prole?

    Seems like it, given her credentials.


    October 1, 2014 at 7:15 PM

  50. The last posts call to mind my father’s conflicts with class. He was sent to an elite boarding school where his classmates included sons from the S.C. Johnson and Firestone Rubber families. After horrible grades when he started, he got admitted to Yale, but his father said he couldn’t afford for him to go there. He instead went to McGill, at that time, clearly the best university in Canada where my family had come from. Upon graduation, he purposely chose to do two years as enlisted in the US Army rather than be an officer, as he was encouraged to do, as he already had his degree. The Army confused physiology with psychology, so he spent the entire two years evaluating the IQ tests and records of soldiers at Fort Knox (other than going to furnace school and working on the side for his black Sergeant cleaning up movie theaters as a second job).

    In the late 50’s, when he served, the Army was lowering the budget and keeping the class distinction of officers by waiting until the officers promoted from enlisted in the breech during World War II were about ready to retire, and then one of the tasks assigned my father was checking their records to see if they had a college degree. Almost none of them did, so the Army would bust them back down to enlisted, and their pension would be greatly reduced. A final slap that they were not worthy of being an officer in retirement, even if they actually were one during WWII.

    As a VA doctor for his career, my father said the thing he was most proud of on a personal level was that, when he told his patients he was enlisted in the Army, and not an officer, it created an immediate bond in the vast majority of cases that led the patients to be happier and more compliant with their treatment from him.


    October 1, 2014 at 9:42 PM

  51. In france military is for average kids from upper class or Alpha kids from Middle class . We sélect officer from prep school and they all end captain at 25 , comandant at 30, lt colonel at 38 …. And at this point there is a competition to enter war school , wich détermined who’ll be general or not 10 years later .

    Bruno from paris

    October 2, 2014 at 8:00 AM

  52. The police is proler except for one category . Because if army has 3 entry for 20yo people (soldier, Sub officer and officer after 3 years of military academy) police has 4. The officer are selected among bachelor (lot’s of candidates are graduates though) . They are 300 each year like military officers.
    But the police select also 15 kids among law school graduates and mpa grad to be (after 2 years of special professional school) directly super intendant which is equally to a lieutenant colonel positions ( so at 28yo). No countrt in the world so that .
    15 other are selected among comandant with 13 years career (like in war school). So there is an elite of young people with direct access to top management positions in the police that don’t exist in the army (the reason is that such a sélection process would have implied the marger of the three armies they didn’t want to accept ).

    Bruno from paris

    October 2, 2014 at 8:22 AM

  53. I hate to be the one to break the news to all of you neo-elitists, but this SES circlejerk you’re having about the class system is as stupid as seeing a Marxist professor talking about the poor ex-slaves dealing with the trauma of picking cotton in the hot sun while being whipped even though no one in this country was around when that happened. Our class system is against the law due to Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity Laws. Any separation of classes is due to economic and not social reasons. The Kardashians are Rich, but I doubt any of you snobs would invite her to your house. In fact, most of the Rich are not even well-educated. Look at Bill Gates who dropped out of college, and so did Steve Jobs who you probably have a shrine to with all the iCrap you own.
    Economic Class is clearly different than social class. The Vanderbilts from the 19th Century are completely different from the Vampire Squids who run Octopus, inc. in Manhatten.

    Joshua Sinistar

    October 2, 2014 at 5:42 PM

  54. An Officer and a Gentleman, although made in the 1980s, is a good movie about class.

    The Richard Gere character, son of a prole soldier in the Philippines and probably mixed, is manhandled badly by the black drill master Louis Gossett Jr.

    The Gere character eventually ends up with a factory girl, who is definitely prole and will probably played by someone like Zoe Saldana in a possible remake, which ensures his progeny will be prole.

    So there will be no ‘gentleman’ in the movie, which is realistic.

    toos is god

    October 2, 2014 at 6:30 PM

  55. The military is not dumb, at least not yet. Its the only employer in the United States that still requires a rudimentary intelligence test. Because of its belligerent attitudes, the US Government realizes it has to maintain some standards in the military. Like Jack Nicholson said to Tom Cruise in the movies, you’re only safe to believe in the things you do like freedom because tough guys like him are defending the border and protecting you.
    Prole seems to be the favorite word of the blogger, but I’m not sure he knows what it means. The Proletariat is the lower working class that doesn’t make enough to own land and therefore can only rent as tenants, which is simply economic.
    Due to the ongoing destruction of the Middle Class, the so-called proles are increasing due to lower wages from Illegal Immigrants. Many of the new workers in the lower class economically have been displaced by foreign workers. This is not just uneducated Americans. There are Americans that have advanced College Degrees who cannot find work due to the sneaky H1-B Visa Program bringing in marginally educated foreigners that are willing to work for less than half the wages of Americans.

    Joshua Sinistar

    October 2, 2014 at 11:42 PM

  56. The Princes Charles, William and Harry are not prole.


    October 4, 2014 at 3:22 PM

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: