The Crisis of Achilles

May 27, 2017

"What's it all for?"


As 2017 drags on, and becomes 2018, 2019, and eventually 2020 arrives, it may become difficult to retain focus and purpose as a group. Mission-creep, loss of interest, degraded motivation, or the perceived decline in necessity are all dangers any organization may face. These pressing obligations and distractions may appear particularly attractive if something happens to other members. Nothing so grandiose as death or hospitalization. It will be something banal, like a week in jail for some petty non-offense, or perhaps getting fired. The boring costs sometimes feel like the hardest to withstand, because there is little glory in their endurance. Just donating our time and money, and enduring the sardonic charge of "LARPing," are trying enough.


Worse still, the threat we face is not new, but ancient. Anti-fascist provacateurs like Piero Gobetti, Antonio Gramsci, and Plamiro Togliatti preceded the rise of fascism in Italy in the early 20th century. 2,000 years prior, their proto-Marxist ancestors threatened to destroy Rome and the republic over an anti-patrician policy of land-redistribution led by Lucius Catiline, and only barely thwarted by Marcus Tullius Cicero.


The threat will always exist. And between this knowledge, and the very real costs of choosing to engage in politics, we may very well find ourselves asking "why bother?"


Perhaps I should have just stayed home.


This is the crisis of Achilles, in Homer's Iliad. Faced with the choice between a long, happy, easy, but forgotten life, or a life that would bring him glory despite an early death, Achilles chose glory. But due to an argument between himself and Agamemnon, it appeared to the hero that the reward for his choice was to be denied him. And so the choice became recursive: should he continue to fight, or should he withdraw from the battle?


Homer's opening, "Sing, O Goddess, the Wrath of Achilles..." refers to the wrath of his withdrawal. It was his inaction that killed Patroclus, and the "many strong souls of heroes" Homer speaks of.


Inaction from the beginning is no better. Had Achilles stayed home, he may have found himself in a position like Hector, the Trojan prince leading the defense against the Achaeans. When the enemy is at the gates, staying home is simply not an option. At best, you are handing off your portion of the heavy burden of life to your children, who are younger and less prepared than you are.


Yet even for Hector, survival isn't the correct motivation, strong though it may be. It doesn't quite last, because it isn't self-justifying. Who cares if you merely survive? Hector and Achilles follow the same motivation, which is glory:


"...Moreover, mine own soul forbiddeth me, seeing I have learnt ever to be valiant and fight in the forefront of the Trojans, winning my father's great glory and mine own. Yea of a surety I know this in heart and soul; the day shall come for holy Ilios to be laid low, and Priam and the fold of Priam of the good ashen spear. Yet doth the anguish of the Trojans hereafter not so much trouble me [...] But me in death may the heaped-up earth be covering ere I hear thy crying and thy carrying into captivity."


Glory matters because it matters to other people. This, Hector makes clear in reference to his father, and immediately afterwards to his young son:


"O Zeus and all ye gods, vouchsafe ye that this my son may likewise prove even as I, pre-eminent amid the Trojans, and as valiant in might, and be a great king of Ilios. Then may men say of him, 'Far greater is he than his father'..."


When we feel the urge to cave in to the jeers, the petty inconveniences, and the creeping fears of more serious consequences for doing what we know is right - when we feel like just staying home - that is our short-sighted ego whispering in your ear. As Braveheart and Stefan Molyneux have said, you can survive in a pretty broad variety of environments. Fight, and you may die. Run, and you'll live.


Honestly, who among us couldn't survive, as an individual, in a Muslim caliphate, or in a Marxist worker's paradise? When we shy away from the battle lines, away from glory, we're not shirking vain self-promotion. It is the exact opposite; we're ditching other people.


Our actions come down to a choice between love and loneliness; between other people and ourselves.


The Cascade Legion and its members hold no illusions about resolving the Marxist threats to our laws, our freedoms, and our cultures, once and for all. We do it for the glory of ourselves, our family, and our nation. America, and Pacific Northwesterners, are the sorts of people who don't take Communist bullshit because we're Americans, we're Pacific Northwesterners, and we're going to meet them toe-to-toe, whenever they try to destroy what we love.


Remembering that it's all for glory, for love, and for our children will be critical in maintaining focus, vigilance, and motivation over the coming years, despite the outrageous slings and arrows of friends and foes alike. The crisis of Achilles - of action or inaction - is one we may all face, if we think about what we're really doing out there, in our Legion gear and blue tape, but it's a question with an answer.


In the end of the Iliad, Homer spends several pages describing the heavy shield Hephaestus gives to Achilles to carry into combat. On the shield is all of life, depicted in concentric circles, and in intricate detail. It does not bear the insignia of Trojans or Achaeans, but the heavy weight of life itself.


Life, action, and glory are all intermingled. And pain is a part of it too. But running from pain leads to boredom, loneliness, and eventually, the welcome release of invasion and death. Embracing the pain leads to glory, the meaning in the suffering.


Glory in the eyes of the virtuous, that is the answer. It is the reason to get up in the morning, to fight against Antifa, and to risk everything to do everything, and to do it well. It is the reason not to stay home.


Pick up your shield, and we'll see you on the battle lines.

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