Rhodesian S.A.S. Combat Manual

It is common on the Right today to have conversations which five or ten years ago would have seemed insane. Notable among such discussions are those relating to violence in conditions of societal fluidity. Of late, for me, talk tends to coalesce around possible future instantiations of a social device of ancient lineage, to which I have given the new name of “armed patronage network.” A new name, for in the West the APN would be a new thing, or more precisely a new old thing. I have earlier talked briefly about APNs, but today, we will explore exactly how APNs might arise, and what that means for you.

You may ask, what does that have to do with the Rhodesian Bush War, lasting from roughly 1965 to 1980, the long defeat fought by the Rhodesians against Communist guerillas? Not a lot. Rhodesia is just the jumping off point for today. Nonetheless, I will offer some thoughts about this book, which is, or purports to be, a reprint of a basic instruction manual for how the Rhodesian army conducted counter-insurgency operations against Communist infiltrators.

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I know little detail about Rhodesia, the landlocked country in southern Africa now known as Zimbabwe. The basics, however, are (or should be) commonly known. In the late nineteenth century, fewer than a thousand Englishmen, organized by Cecil Rhodes, conquered the land. The area had featured a largely-, or maybe wholly-, forgotten minor Iron Age civilization, which had died in the fifteenth century. Since that time it had been dominated by an ever-shifting ethnic mix of Africans living more or less a Stone Age existence, and naturally, in the fashion of primitive peoples (similar to the Americas before the Europeans arrived), more warlike tribes continually displaced others. Then the Portuguese arrived and seized control, mostly in this area through trade rather than settlement, though on the coast, in bordering Mozambique, they settled and ruled. They also upgraded local war technology, resulting in yet more wars among the natives. The English, therefore, were just the latest group of ethnic conquerors, but certainly by far the most effective, turning Rhodesia into an industrial nation, which supplied some of the best British troops of World War II.

In the middle of the twentieth century, agitators from outside Rhodesia, doubly fueled by the preaching of Lenin and by the blandishments of decolonization, actively supported by the American and British governments, as well as by the Soviet Union, waged a war of insurgency against the white-dominated government of Rhodesia. In 1979, under extreme world pressure, far greater than that ever applied by the West to Communist countries, the war ended when the white Rhodesians agreed to hand over power to the black majority. The aftermath, again, is commonly known, and was known beforehand to those with eyes to see—the country rapidly decayed into Third World status, all the people except the thugs and grifters in charge are far worse off than they were, and we avert our eyes from the dumpster fire and pretend everything is fine. No doubt, it could not have been otherwise in that time and place, when Left ideology was riding high and many fervently believed the fairy tale that the problem with Africa was colonialism and not enough free money from the productive West. In a world of mass media and egalitarian ideology, open dominance by a small group, much less a small group marked out by race, is never going to work out for long. To believe it could have been otherwise is a fantasy.

I’m not here to litigate Rhodesian history, even if it might be worth learning more about it (finding a non-propaganda source is probably going to be hard—perhaps my readers can suggest some). But we should talk briefly about the tactics of the Rhodesian Bush War. The Rhodesians faced two major problems. First, Rhodesia is a large country, roughly the size of California, which had only around seven million people, of whom about 500,000 were white (although some, maybe many, maybe a great many, of the black population supported the white government, to one degree or another—it is impossible to find out now). Second, Rhodesian military strength was low—not just relatively few soldiers, but also hobbled by international embargoes which prevented them from obtaining most weapons. As it is said, however, necessity is the mother of invention.

The Combat Manual usually refers to Rhodesia’s enemies as “terrorists,” though sometimes as “insurgents.” That’s interesting because it predates the American habit of referring to all our enemies as terrorists, which I thought was a fresh propaganda device (now bizarrely being applied in the Russo-Ukraine War, with respect to which we have no national interest at all). Of course, most of our opponents in the wars of the past thirty years weren’t terrorists in the least. With rare exceptions, they attacked military targets, and unlike us, they didn’t make a regular habit of slaughtering children and attendees at wedding parties. We were just propagandized to call them terrorists so the fiction that America was preventing another 9/11 could be maintained, and to tamp down domestic opposition to the Regime’s forever wars. To what degree Rhodesia’s enemies were terrorists (that is, they attacked civilian rather than military targets), is not clear to me. I’m sure that Rhodesian expatriates will say 100%, and that Communist apologists will say 0%, but how one can get a straight answer today, I just don’t know. You certainly can’t go to Wikipedia.

In any case, the Rhodesians responded to these challenges by adopting a new way of warfare specifically directed to the challenges they faced. Unlike other British colonies, the Rhodesians had developed an advanced industrial base, and so were able to make quite a few of their own weapons. More importantly, perhaps, they developed a very aggressive strategy of using air assets to locate, confront, and destroy bands of marauders inserted across their borders (who often aimed to kill those in isolated farms, and also to randomly kill using land mines, with the side goal of murdering Christian missionaries. Most of their victims were black.). This book is a manual for that type of war. If you had to boil down this book, it consists of repeated admonitions to aggressively seek out and encounter the enemy; to ensure accurate shooting; and to demand a high level of discipline and training, allowing instinctive, highly-competent action at a moment’s notice. Upon any encounter with the enemy, “What is required is immediate, positive and offensive action.”

What does that have to with APNs? We’ll get there, but let’s talk violence in general first. We, meaning those opposed to late-stage leftism, and therefore facing potential violence from the armed wings of the Regime, its regular and irregular military forces (to the extent the former are loyal to the Regime), face a very different set of problems than did the Rhodesians. We can call us, the protagonists, Armed Normal Citizens—the ANC. For, it is safe to assume, those who are awake to the threats the Regime poses to us are all armed, with enough extra weapons to also arm the grasshoppers among us. Which leads to the obvious question—for what should the ANC prepare, and how?

In broad categories, the ANC faces three major possibilities involving violence. First is mere anarchy, the total breakdown of order, resulting in ongoing freelance violence from which nobody is safe. This is the most unlikely possibility. As I have detailed before, anarchy in the West never exists for more than a few moments. Moreover, triggers for even a brief total anarchy are very limited; they consist of extremely unlikely events, such as asteroid strikes, widespread nuclear war, and such happenings. Second is the possibility of organized violence directed at normal citizens—at what are sometimes called the deplorables, but are, more or less, the large segment of Americans defined by what they are not. They are not part of the underclass; they are not part of Gaetano Mosca’s “governing elite,” the ruling class; and they are not members of privileged, promoted, and protected identity groups based on race or sexual perversion. For example, the Regime might implement Floyd Riots II, but on a much larger scale, and more importantly, outside of the safe zones where the police and prosecutors, as well as juries, are controlled by the Left, perhaps with the marauders openly protected by federal power, with the aim of terrorizing the normal people of America. (This is why, by the way, I strongly recommend all in the ANC buy and keep nondescript clothes and several generic balaclavas or other full-face/head coverings, in order to, in case of need, frustrate the persecution of self-defense by the criminal and terroristic Department of “Justice.” You should also not carry phones, and make sure your shell casings have no trace of DNA or fingerprints.) This rule by terror is a universal tactic of the Left when it fears that it may be unable to retain power, so this second possibility is fairly likely. Third, and less likely, probably, than the second, is more-or-less open warfare with the federal government, or some subset or remnant of it, resulting either as a follow-on to Regime-initiated violence, or flowing from the fracture of our oh-so-fragile Regime in a (possibly unrelated) crisis.

Sticking with this book, it is only in the third possibility that counter-insurgency is relevant, and only because the ANC would be the insurgents. If you are an insurgent, or potential insurgent, there is much to be said for learning how counter-insurgency operates. In all situations, knowing how your enemy plans to act is crucial. (No doubt there is some internet quote from Sun Tzu to this effect.) But this book is worthless for that purpose. Counter-insurgency in twenty-first-century America would look almost nothing like the counter-insurgency the Rhodesians somewhat successfully implemented. Moreover, you can easily obtain quite a few modern Regime documents that explicitly reveal the Regime’s plans and practices for counter-insurgency operations. After all, the Regime has much recent experience with (losing to) insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has written that experience and putative lessons up. I’d spend some time reading those documents, though a better source, if it came to that, would probably be the many members of the ANC who, as a result of their own military service, have direct experience with how the Regime combats insurgencies.

An APN, however, is not necessarily the result of any of these scenarios. Thinking about violence is essential, but crucially, the emphasis in an APN is not on the “A,” but on the “P” and the “N.” An APN is not a military organization. It is a civilian organization, a micro-scale societal organizing device in conditions where central authority has broken down, along with many, most, or all of the other fragile structures on which we depend, those that generate everything from the internet to medicine to electricity. An APN is an organically-arising entity, which exists on a continuum with other self-generating organizations in response to a severe breakdown, local or wider, in social order. Violence is its birth, to be sure. Its beginning is, in Ernst Jünger’s words, when “the family father, [with his] sons at his side, fills the doorway with an axe in hand.” Soon enough this becomes the neighborhood watch, a more-or-less democratic and ad hoc gathering to maximize force and spread responsibility. Examples of these are common in recent natural disasters. However, hierarchy is natural to man, and hierarchy is necessary for swift and coherent action where existential matters are at stake, so if central authority does not return, the next natural organizing step is an APN—a group headed by one man, who undertakes to protect and provide for the men and women who accept his authority, and which has an open-ended existence, perhaps for years or decades.

It seems bizarre that such a thing could happen here. But that’s hubris—the idea that we have escaped the fate of all past civilizations, the collapse of central authority and the devolution of authority to a local, often very local, level. After all, were the federal government to dissolve, who really believes existing state governments would be able to step into the void? All state governments are, by and large, filled with corrupt placeholders dependent on federal money. They are not the independent sovereigns of 1787. And municipal governments might be able to keep some coherence, but again, not only do they inspire no loyalty, no emotion, they are simply not designed to be independent of higher authority, which means that if higher authority disappears, they will run around like headless chickens, until they expire. My theory is that everything we are now doing is a form of shadowplay in a declining civilization. I try to stay optimistic, and try to believe there is a path to societal renewal, to the conquest of Space, to once more be a society that achieves great things. But it’s getting harder to see that happening, without going very far backwards first, and if we do, APNs are inevitable.

What distinguishes an APN from mere ad hoc self-defense groupings, private militias and the like? First, an APN has one ruler—at its core, participation in an APN is a transaction where the leader undertakes to protect and provide for a group of people who recognize his authority. This is the “patronage” in “APN.” It is not a democracy, but it is a two-way street, with mutual obligations and the possibility of exit or expulsion. The best analogy is the feudal system, blended with the manorial system, but that’s not precisely it either. The primary governing principle of the feudal and manorial systems was custom, and custom cannot be created from nothing. It takes time, patience, and common bonds among all the people. (Such bonds, of emotion and loyalty, might develop over time in an APN, to be sure.) Second, an APN is an entire society in miniature, not a mere warband. It has men, women, and children, all working together toward a common goal of achieving relative ease and comfort.

The basic activities of an APN are simple. The implementation by APNs of defensive violence will necessarily vary from place to place, but sharing risky duties, and thereby earning the right to be part of the APN, is the precondition of being part of an APN. The other core offerings of an APN are just as important—providing food and shelter, and implementing order and justice. As to the former, the most important effort will be devoted to food, and the need for food is why an APN cannot really exist inside a city, because it cannot produce enough food. (I would expect in a scenario where APNs arise and exist for any length of time, more than a month, that most city-dwellers would starve to death.) As to the latter, arbitrary justice is no justice at all, so to substitute for custom, an APN will need stated rules, along with implementation of those rules, by the head of the APN.

All this has to be bound together by common purpose, and diversity is, as always, the opposite of strength. Therefore, when called forth by circumstance, I would expect small APNs to rapidly develop, coalescing around existing neighborhood groupings, supplemented by extended family, religious, or other affinity groups, and with natural leaders emerging, based both on personality and resources. A primary mode of providing food and other essential materials will be trade, so all APNs will maintain contacts with others. This is the “network” in “APN.” No doubt there will be mergers, as well as splits, so friction and even violence with others can be expected, but because America’s unique situation means everyone will be armed to the teeth, overt predation I expect to be rare, because losses would be very high any time a predatory band tried to attack even a disorganized APN. Moreover, predation among those capable of and likely to form APNs is simply not a cultural norm in the West, at least outside some subcultures that are unlikely to make it past the initial stages of APN formation. This is why American, or post-American, APNs would not be analogous to Somali warlords. Cultures where warlords are common, as in Africa, are invariably extractive, zero-sum, tribal cultures, where the sole point of power is to hand out goodies stolen from others to your family and friends. An APN is a productive endeavor, not an extractive endeavor. We find it hard to conceive of such a thing because it has been a long time in Western cultures since there was a need for APNs—not because there is something inherently impossible about the rise of APNs in the West.

In all likelihood, were APNs to become common in what was America, they would be a transition state to gradual formation of larger entities. This is the usual arc in the West, and once the stupid is entirely squeezed out of our civilization, I’d expect the cycle would begin again. Some are more pessimistic—mostly those who see diminishing sources of cheap energy as fatal to maintaining advanced societies, notably John Michael Greer, or those who see the default state of human societies as more hunter-gatherer than city-state, such as Paul Kingsnorth (at least in some of his incarnations). It doesn’t really matter; those would be problems for our descendants. The beauty, and the curse, of participating in an APN is that life would no longer be boring, and everyone will have meaning in his life, because every day would be a struggle, though perhaps often a rewarding struggle.

If you are wise, you’re not going to stick a flagpole outside your house today, announcing your new APN, so what should you do, as we wait to see what the future will bring? You should, as I constantly preach, acquire useful skills that enhance resilience. First, since self-defense is the initial job of an APN, you should obtain training in violence. For the former, you might try, for example, the online training offered by the American Warrior Society (on whose podcast I recently appeared, and no, I don’t get a commission), or a similar group. Local training is available in many places in (semi-) free America. (I would not join today’s military to obtain these skills.) Naturally, I assume you are armed to the limits of your budget already; if not, run, don’t walk, to the nearest gun store, or preferably to obtain guns through private sales (if you live in a (semi-) free state). Furthermore, although having women in a nation’s military is obviously insane, all women should also have at least basic firearms training (as should children), because an APN is a self-defense organization, and everyone must be able to defend if necessary.

Second, you should obtain practical skills unrelated to violence, which here mostly means manual skills. I, for example, am in the process of buying various farm machinery and implementing a small farm. You may not have the money or time to farm, but you could, for example, learn how to weld. Or garden. Or take an EMT course. Or learn how to make alcohol. Or any others of myriad skills that require tacit knowledge that can only be gained through doing. You should also buy physical books about skills, because book knowledge is better than no knowledge, and download videos. You should leave the cities, or at least have a plan to leave the cities (and no, you may not come to hang out with me). In short, by hook or by crook, you should obtain skills that will be useful to yourself and others, because in a future of APNs, patronage is a two-way transaction, and you want to be able to offer something other than manual labor.

Perhaps APNs will never arise. That’s actually reasonably likely. But all forms of preparation for the advent of APNs are useful for other reasons, so why not? And, you may ask, why does Haywood obsess about APNs? As I have discussed earlier, I am fully prepared to create one overnight, and that’s a little odd. Mostly I obsess because I have a lot of people to protect, and while I abhor chaos in my personal life, the truth is that my talents shine in chaos, my personality is well-suited for dealing with chaos, and I have the time and money to do something in advance.

We should not desire chaos. It will be far worse than you think, and the price infinite for many—your life, or unbearably, the life of your son or daughter. We should not accelerate chaos, even if we could. But history does not care about our intentions; it will roll over us in the same way it would otherwise. Hope is not a plan.

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