Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The New Spartans

Jose Antonio Vargas' article in the Washington Post explores the impact of first person shooters on today's dogfaces.

Lt. Col. Scott Sutton, director of the technology division at Quantico Marine Base... says soldiers in this generation "probably feel less inhibited, down in their primal level, pointing their weapons at somebody." That, in effect, "provides a better foundation for us to work with," he adds.

No one knows for sure whether Sutton is right. Since at least World War II, studies purporting to explore how readily troops pulled the trigger -- S.L.A. Marshall's "Men Against Fire," for example -- have aroused controversy and been scored as anecdotal. Indeed, collecting data in the swirl of battle is no less formidable a challenge today than in the past. As a result, comparisons to previous generations of soldiers are problematic. Nonetheless, soldiers today are far more knowledgeable about weaponry than their predecessors, Bartlett feels sure, and have "a basic skills set as to how to use them."

Retired Marine Col. Gary W. Anderson, former chief of staff of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab, agrees. And he takes it a step further: Today's soldiers, having grown up with first-person shooter games long before they joined the military, are the new Spartans, he says.|Link|

The Spartans seem totally removed from our decadent American culture in so many ways. The Spartans would leave newborns outside to see if they could survive the cold. The men went barefoot in the Winter. It was a brutal, conservative, ultra-militant culture.

Among the Spartans the warriors belonged to a high caste and were supported by serfs.

In contemporary American society there is a huge disparity between wealth and poverty. The middle class has been shrinking and the ranks or the poor are growing faster than the ranks of the rich.

Many Americans lead lives of quiet desparation in sketchy neighborhoods with crappy schools infested with gangs and drugs. They don't have a social safety net or sufficient medical care.

These are largely the people for whom the military seems like a good idea. Shooting people for three square meals a day plus free medical care doesn't seem so bad when the option is working at McDonalds or joining the criminal underworld.

That is the beauty of our society.

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