Thursday, December 09, 2010


A NIGHT WITH GENERAL PATTON. His Museum is just ahead---located very near his desert training headquarters--from which he guided vast armies of trainees preparing for warfare in north Africa. Thousands of square miles stretching East to Quartzsite and South to Yuma, Az--constituted the largest training area in history. I'll go through the museum again to warm up my brain to address the big question posed in the title. 30 miles east of Indio, Ca --just off Interstate 10. (how do you pronounce that word?)

I spent the night right here---the famous general just outside my window---I was alone in the parking lot--just me and the "general" and his strange looking dog.

Sunrise and soon the museum opens----lots of tanks outside for the viewing.

Me and the general. Surely one of history's more forceful personalities. Subordinates feared and revered him. His style of warfare was super agressive. Speeches on the wall advocate unrelenting attack---contempt for passive--positional--defensive strategies. He believed this to be the "cheapest"--in terms of lives lost--way to end the war. German Generals considered him the most dangerous---and were incredulous when he was removed from command for merely striking a soldier.

I travel 8 miles and call it a day at the edge of Joshua tree National Park.

I'll just sit here and think awhile about the General and other forceful personalities in history---How do I judge them -- generally? As barrier--breaking--red tape cutting--log jam anniliating--heroes----- or egomaniacal, frenzied bulls in civilizations china shop. ( Incidentally, I'm parked only a few feet from the Colorado Aqueduct---its buried under those bushes this side of the road)

While I'm pondering--who should surprise me but an old friend---enroute to the infamous SLABS. She camps with me for the night.

It's another great sunset. I'll think about the general tomorrow.

RANDY HILOSOPHIZES: OK---I've had time to think. We need charismatic leaders (people with personal magnetism) for the same reason we need salesmen---to bring us to decision and action. Humans naturally drift, dawdle, delay---collectively we are even worse than we are individually---And the tendency of social and personal drift is downward. Societies and nations idle away their time doing nothing of significance. I believe there is important work to be done --defeating the forces of entropy and building progress (progress is the increase of options) ---We need powerful personalities--like Thomas Paine to stir us to action---Personalities like Voltaire--Andrew Jackson--Theodore Roosevelt---and yes--General George Patton who possess personal magnetism. Yes I know Hitler was charismatic too--and led millions down a rathole. As did Napoleon etc. The trick is to use such personalities for the stimulus they provide but not let them use us---exactly like Eisenhower used Patton. Like fire, they make a great servant but a bad master.


John and Ellen said...

I enjoyed this really excellent post! Good history mixed in with your own thoughts.

Chuck and Anneke's RV travels said...

Good post, this is a museum that now is on our must see list.

Anonymous said...

Great servants but poor masters

Very insightful words for those social dominators among us.


heyduke50 said...

i tend to agree that countries to remain strong need charismatic leaders that are actually great salesmen...without them we will languish in the squalor of third tier nations...

Boonie said...

I liked your style here of holding off on the sermon (grin) until you've gathered empirical evidence, and photographed it. That seems like the perfect method for a peripatetic philosopher.

Regarding Patton...I often wondered if Eisenhower -- an office-oriented, team-playing, bland, planner type -- was fearful of being upstaged by a blood-and-guts fighter like Patton, who always makes better "copy" as far as reporters are concerned. Perhaps that's why Eisenhower used the slapping incident as an excuse to try to knock Generalissimo Patton down to size.

Andy said...

And who are the current "forceful personalities" and how are they affecting life on the planet ?

Anonymous said...

What happened to the King/General riding on the first horse, out in front, when going into battle?

Guess we have to preserve great minds/men for the sheep to follow.


john patrick said...

If war is the height of insanity, then how should the war heroes be decorated? Medal of Insanity?

Sorry. I've got more respect for someone who moves a turtle off the road.

Otherwise--always enjoy your writing.

Anonymous said...

The people I remember are the un-forceful ones.
Like Gandhi, M.L.King, Lincoln, Buddha, Jesus...
The Generals, Dictators, Hegemons of History do not light up my mind.
Who, at last, do you love?
Throughout history, power always seems to deceive.

Rob said...

Lincoln was unforceful? Ok...

Forceful personalities are what built the world we live in.

Is the weather a blessing or a curse? The weather is the weather, it's part of life. If it's too cold you wish for warm if it's too warm you wish for cooler.

The world is full of things we like or dislike, we can like or dislike all we want, they are still there.

I put the museum on my list of things to check out the next time I'm down that way, thanks Randy.

john patrick said...

On Generals...

I guess the question is: Did they bring about lasting positive change?

The way I see it, we've been fighting for over 10,000 years. I'm not against self-defense. But using a standing army to accomplish a higher goal?

Doesn't work.

Live by the sword, die by the sword. Nothing has changed.

There are a lot of good people doing good things that go unnoticed by museums and governments. Goodness doesn't require a medal for recognition or honor.

Randy said...

Thanks all for the thoughtful comments. However dreadful war is----tyranny is worse. I say with Sam Harris (author: The End of Faith) that pacifism is a false choice---"nothing more than a willingness to die and let others die at the pleasure of the world's thugs. It should be enough to note that a single sociopath, armed with nothing more than a knife, could exterminate a city full of pacifist." "We must accept the fact that violence (or its threat) is often an ethical necessity."

john patrick said...

Hey Randy,

On war, I don't have a problem with it. As long as those that vote for it pack their bags that evening and leave for the frontline. It's only fair.

As it is, very very few of our leaders walk the talk when it comes to war. Nor do they send their kids.

To send someone else to do your killing, in the name of freedom, or whatever, is cowardice.

Rustedgranny said...

War for war's sake or to boost certain incomes - bad.
War to show our power - bad.
War to defend, on our own soil, good. I'd pick up a gun myself.

John Patrick is right..let them who want the war, fight the war!

john patrick said...

If we want to end war--than those that spout off about the positives about it, should go. Period. I don't care how old, male/female, age, whatever. If you want to kill someone for an "ideal." Then you should go.

I'm not a pacifist when it comes to protecting family. But we have been brainwashed on the "business" of war. A true war hero, in my mind, is someone who acknowledges the insanity of it, and wants no recognition for participating in it. Should I receive a medal for killing someone to protect my family?

I respect the poor guy/gal that goes out everyday to put food on the table. And does it with integrity.

And, I respect someone like Randy that shows others we don't need all the junk in our life to be liberated and free.


How refreshing to come across a blog dealing with some thought & substance for a change.

Boonie said...

Some really excellent comments by John Patrick. I hope he has better luck than I when it comes to convincing the Kodger to abandon Wishful Thinking in his political theories. (grin)

People like JP might enjoy the movie, "Joyeux Noel," (Merry Christmas), about the Christmas truce amongst soldiers on the Western Front in 1917. Non-fighters ended up prosecuting the "guilty truce-committing" soldiers when it was all over.

Imagine the Mobile Kodger as one of the prosecutors. (grin)

john patrick said...

Well, Randy is the one doing what we'd all like to do ;) I run across the same paradox in my travels: what we honor/support, and what we hold true.

It seems we have to strike a balance between chaos and militant order, as both are distateful to liberty.

I think balance is the answer, instead of war.

I do not accept the idea that "someone" is fighting for my liberty. No--I should do what is necessary for my liberty and not require someone else to do it. Besides, if you didn't ask me personally to do what you are doing, then you are not doing it for me. I do not think we should claim the path of "higher good" for anyone. (except perhaps children)

I wonder where Randy is going next? Can't wait to hear.

Anonymous said...

I've got a quote from Gandi that I'd like to share on this Blog.
He said (paraphrased):
If it is a choice between cowardness and violence,
* from Living With The Devil by S. Batchelor

Rick said...


Your blog may be a good candidate for this - Make your blog or the favorite posts of your blog into a printed book.

Rob said...

Merry Christmas Randy.