I have long thought about writing this post. A part of what restrained me was that I couldn’t find an appropriate topic or news event to demonstrate my point.
At this point, I don’t think that’s necessary.
I see online and in real life people talk about their principles, beliefs, convictions, and what not. However, when push comes to shove and their enemies threaten political violence, they buckle and cave. They yield and submit.
This is practically the history of the relationship between Mainstream Conservatism Inc. and the Left. The Left attacks something “valued” by conservatives. Conservatives bellow and wail and cry bloody murder, but once the Left escalates to the point of violence, whether it’s Antifa, state law enforcement, or the courts, conservatives concede, then redrawn the line in the sand, and pretend they never gave in.
Dalrock has documented this on his website for years, how tradcons have to engage in profound denial in order to believe that anything has fundamentally changed since the Sexual Revolution.
Aside from perhaps Trump and superficial election victories, the Left hasn’t the foggiest concept of defeat. Putting aside the standoff at the Bundy Ranch, they don’t know what it’s like to have to back off in the face of escalation from the Right that could turn out badly for them.
The only thing that will arouse conservatives to talk of outright armed rebellion is the Second Amendment. I think this is purely psychological; as Americans, it’s been ingrained into our minds that gun rights are the last stop to a dictatorship. Talk of restriction guns immediately triggers something in their hind-brain that makes it unacceptable.
Had they shown that kind of backbone on just about every other issue they claim to care about, imagine how different things might be. It shows the power of an “all-in” mentality. All or nothing.
Which brings me to the history lesson for today taken from two similar incidents in two separate Crusades involving a siege of the same city (Jerusalem), with completely different results for the defenders who had adopted opposing mindsets.
During the First Crusade, it was the Europeans besieging Jerusalem. The traditional rules of warfare at that time dictated that if a city opened its doors to an attacking force, the inhabitants would be spared. But if they did not, they would be put to the sword.
And that is exactly what happened when the Crusaders breached the walls on the third day.
Atrocities committed against the inhabitants of cities taken by storm after a siege were the norm in ancient and medieval warfare. The Crusaders had already done so at Antioch, and Fatimids had done so themselves at Taormina, at Rometta, and at Tyre. However, the massacre of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may have exceeded even these standards. Historian Michael Hull has suggested this was a matter of deliberate policy rather than simple bloodlust, to remove the “contamination of pagan superstition” (quoting Fulcher of Chartres) and to reform Jerusalem as a strictly Latin Christian city.
Almost a century later, it was Saladin besieging the Crusade defenders inside Jerusalem. After nearly a week, a section of the wall was destroyed. However, the defenders fought so savagely Saladin’s forces withdrew.
Still, the situation for the defenses was grim:
The crusaders were unable to push Saladin’s troops back from the breach, but at the same time the Muslims could not gain entrance to the city. Soon there were only a few dozen knights and a handful of remaining men-at-arms capable of bearing arms and defending the wall; no more men could be found even for the promise of an enormous fee.
A knight named Balian was leader of the defense force. He met with Saladin and offered to surrender the city. Saladin wanted it to be unconditional, which meant no terms could be demanded or agreed upon.
What was the response?
Balian threatened that the defenders would destroy the city along with the holy places, slaughter their own families and the 5000 Muslim slaves, and burn all the wealth and treasures of the Crusaders.”
In other words, he went all in. Everything or nothing.
Consider his circumstances. His army was reduced to a few. His position was totally untenable. The loss of the city was guaranteed. And yet he would not yield. And it made sense. If they couldn’t walk free, what was the point of leaving the city behind for their enemies to take?
Moreover, it gave him a bargaining tool that the previous defenders did not have. The outright destruction of the city was something the Crusaders invading it before did not have to worry about.
Saladin did. And that’s why he caved.
Saladin, who wanted to take the city with as little bloodshed as possible, insisted that the Crusaders were to unconditionally surrender but could leave by paying a ransom of ten dinars for men, five for women and two for children; those who couldn’t pay would be enslaved.
Balian told him that there were 20,000 in the city who could never pay that amount. Saladin proposed a total of 100,000 dinars to free all the 20,000 Crusaders who were unable to pay. Balian complained that the Christian authorities could never raise such a sum. He proposed that 7,000 of them would be freed for a sum of 30,000 dinars, and Saladin agreed.
The 2005 film Kingdom of Heaven starring Orlando Bloom and Eva Green was historically inaccurate in many ways, but this one scene did a commendable job of showcasing the resolve of the Christians within Jerusalem’s walls. Whatever we may have to say about their moral character, contextualized within the norms of Medieval warfare, cowards they were not.
So unlike the defenders a century before, Balian walked out alive and free, as did thousands of Crusaders, because he was willing to go all the way.
The moral of the story, and the history lesson is clear: if someone escalates beyond the point of no return, if they cross a line for you, you either go all in or you shouldn’t bother in the first place.
If your enemies know in advance that, should they attack you, you will meet their action with greater action and continue until either you are destroyed or they are defeated, they will choose their battles carefully, or find another person to harass.
If somebody knows destroying your life will result in destruction of their own life in the process, they’ll be hesitant to do so.
There are people in this world all around us who thrive on taking advantage of those who they know won’t go as low as they, fight as long as they, and risk as much as they. They fear those who will take it all the way.
It’s why people tend to not mess with the poor low-life drunk with no money, terrible credit, and who lives in an RV, but they’ll be more than happy to mess around with the respectable upper middle class man with a spotless driving/criminal record, high-status career, a small nest egg, and a house paid off. The first guy has nothing to lose, so he’ll take it all the way even if it lands him in jail; he’ll suffer, but so will his enemy.
The second guy won’t, fearful of losing what he has; what he doesn’t realize is his unwillingness to do so makes vulnerable to the very loss he fears.
If you’re all bark and no bite, you might as well have no bite at all.
As a former IRA member (border campaign veteran) remarked in an interview with BBC forty years after the conflict had ended, “in a war you either give it all you got or you should get out of the game, really.”