We've seen in previous essays that aspiring to realize one's potential in all areas of our life is the essence of human beings. Our human essence is comprised of the ongoing development of qualities and capabilities during mortal existence. This is what Plato and other Greeks referred to as Arete (àρετή), the aspiring to achieve one's full potential in all areas of human life.
In its modern representation Arete can best be explicated by the concept and function of progressive awareness. The Arete aspect of our human essence cannot be "given" to us when we are brought into being as eternal, evolving persons; we must develop our full potential on our own (or not)--first during mortal existence and then after death during our return to fuller awareness of eternal being.
Plato made it clear that Arete is like pregnancy, it cannot be achieved in part: it is all or none, you are pregnant or you are not; you aspire to achieve your full potential, or you do not.
During Plato's time--and continuing into the modern era--Arete has been misconceived as something which can be achieved in part. Homer, for example, said that specific persons such as Achilles and Penelope, the wife of the Greek hero Odysseus, had achieved Arete. Homer mistook the achievement of excellence in a specific, limited area of life (e.g. warfare or loyalty) as the achievement of Arete. Since that time, we have suffered from the delusion that Arete (aspiring to the realization of one's full potential) can be accomplished in a single area of one's life. So we have heroes in warfare, celebrities in the arts, genuises in the sciences, captains of industry, and giants of finance--all mistakenly thought to be fully-realized persons. The identification of excellence in a particular area of life, not in all (as with Arete) was referred to in Greek by the word ύπεροχη.
Boticelli's painting of Athena overcoming the satyr--civilization triumphant over barbarism
The only time it becomes appropriate for an individual or a culture to celebrate excellence in specific areas of human achievement (ύπεροχη) is if the person or the culture has made a commitment to the realization of human potential in all areas (àρετή)--including the development of a just and egalitarian society. It is fine to commemorate and extol the transcendent quality of Beethoven's music, for example, but only if you are not, at the same time, ignoring the fact that you are living in a culture based on capitalist slavery. It is only legitimate to honor and laud specific types of excellence if you are, at the same time, working toward the full realization of Arete, which includes the actualization of a just and egalitarian society.
We find the Arete factor in a certain few humans who engage in an ongoing attempt to realize their full human potential in all areas of their lives. We find the achievement of excellence in other people who have developed a particular set of specialized capabilities: artists, athletes, financial experts, teachers, entertainers, etc. It is rare to find persons who are developing excellence in all aspects of their lives. The one area where most so-called celebreties, genuises, and heroes fail to achieve Arete is in developing social consciousness: working in whatever ways possible to expose tyranny and develop concepts and structures allowing people to join in forming a commonwealth community in which the good of all is the goal.
The identification of the Arete factor in certain persons and the identification of excellence in other persons in specific areas of their lives are two separate activities. Only if we can examine the entire life of a specific person can we determine if they evince excellence in any area of their lives or if they embody the Arete factor: the complete dedication to excellence in all areas of their lives.
Only persons who are themselves working to achieve Arete--aspiring to develop all areas of their human potential--are capable of discerning embodiments of the Arete factor in persons, organizations, and events. Making known publicly what specific persons incarnate Arete (excellence in full) or excellence in one area of life, are parts of two larger enterprises:
- The Triumph of Goodness
- Perennialist Warfare Against Evil
Discovering Excellence In Certain Members of the United States Military
In this essay we'll examine the presence of excellence in a surprising group of persons: specific U.S. military personnel.
When our nation was created, its founders understood that all facets of the government, including the military, are created to serve the needs of the people. The American colonists had fought against a British army which did whatever its corrupt civilian monarch and other leaders told it to do. This is why Samuel Adams made the important distinction between the need for and the danger of a standing army.
"A Standing Army," Adams asserted, "however necessary it may be at some times, is always dangerous to the Liberties of the People."
My time of service at the U.S. Army War College (1993-1995) as Chairman of the Department of Artificial Intelligence gave me the opportunity to:
- Develop a personality simulation system
- Discern the two primary mind-sets in the military
- Discern specific persons in the U.S. military who embodied excellence
From the beginning of the establishment of a standing army, military personnel have had one of two primary mind-sets:
Mind-set 1: I will do whatever my civilian and military commanders tell me to do, without reflection on whether or not what they are ordering is permitted by the Constitution (since I want to get ahead in the military). This mind-set is represented by such people as:
Colin Powell, Secretary of State during Bush II's first term and turned out for slight disagreement with the junta's imperialistic plans; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during Bush senior's presidency (took over when Admiral William Crowe wouldn't agree to Bush senior's illegal invasion of Panama)
General Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of the Gulf War against Iraq
General Maxwell Thurman, commander of Operation Just Cause, the military attack on Panama (took over from General Frederick Woerner, when Woerner wouldn't agree to Bush senior's illegal invasion of Panama)
General Tommy Franks, former U.S. military commander in Afghanistan
US Air Force General Ralph E. Eberhart, head of the newly established Northern Command
Mind-set 2: I will remain loyal to my sworn pledge to uphold the U.S. Constitution, no matter what. If I consider a civilian or military order or operation to be contradictory to the Constitution, I will not follow the order and will do whatever is in my power to stop the unconstitutional operation.
This mind-set is represented by such military leaders as (to name just a few):
- General Smedley Butler, USMC, 1933
- General Frederick Woerner--commander in Panama and replaced by Bush senior when he wouldn't obey an illegal military order to attack Panama, 1989
- Admiral William Crowe--Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and replaced by Bush senior when he wouldn't obey an illegal military order to attack Panama, 1989
- Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty (above right), 1997
- Army Vice Chief of Staff General. John Keane, 2012 (left)
- retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson
- Ex-Joint Chief of Staff General Martin Dempsey and other members of the Joint Chiefs, 2015
"Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes. And armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended. Its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war . . . and in the degeneracy of manners and morals, engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."
James Madison, April 20, 1795
In a time when a capitalist cabal has seized all systems of control--economic, political, military, police, information--it's heartening to find persons embodying excellence standing up against this fascist juggernaut. So in December, 2015, it is encouraging to learn that a group of progressive and enlightened military personnel dared to act against the insane policies of the present puppet of the cabal, President Barack Hussein Obama, as he pursues a path toward world war III in Syria.
The vast majority of persons within the U.S. military have allowed themselves to be used in the capitalist cabal's insane, murderous course of regime change, unprovoked attacks, and wars for profit masquerading as wars against terrorism. The most recent operation by a small faction within the U.S. Army--the group centered around General Martin Dempsey--followed the policies and strategies of the Perennialist struggle against the world's forces of evil:"The goals of the forces of Truth are much more subtle than eradicating the demonic cabal that's currently in power; the intent is of a completely different order than in commonplace military or police hostilities. The primary objective of Perennialist Seer-Masters is Understanding and Realizing the Truth."Seymour Hersh's account of the actions of the Joint Chiefs associated with General Dempsey makes it clear that this group did not engage in confrontational attacks on persons or policies within the militarist cabal. This group saw that the insane cabal policies, as championed by President Obama, were supporting--not erradicating the Isis and al-Nusra terrorists--and in an indirect manner (avoiding going through political channels) provided essential military intelligence to Assad through Russian and German military intelligence experts, thus helping to assist in a genuine world struggle against terrorism.
When we first hear of this current act of bravery by members of the U.S. military--and look at earlier instances (as above)--we wonder in what other areas of human endeavor we might find persons who embody excellence working silently, yet effectively, to bring about a cessation of this present mad rush to a military Armageddon and economic ruin for the working class. In future essays we'll examine other areas of contemporary life where we find "invisible" persons who embody excellence and act to improve the human condition.
Tell them, because our fathers lied."