This is interesting, & given the mention of marshes, I'd love to read Scott on the Maroons & similar groups. I will say, though, that "paranoia" is both a) very easy to manipulate, and b) inimical to the compromises that make neighborhood possible. Like, the more people view every pinprick as a crisis, the more every local dispute becomes an existential threat, and soon you have people throwing bricks through windows of places that host drag brunches, etc.

Lol I'll also say that praising righteous paranoia seems likely to feed the thing where people convince themselves that they're actually a targeted minority, so anything they do to other people is just self-defense.... There's an inherent conflict, maybe, between taking the "barbarian" self-protective viewpoint and continuing to try to live in community with that motley crew known as "the neighbors."

Expand full comment

I think the best balance Christianity offers (which Christians only sometimes strike) is "You are constantly under threat; the ultimate victory is won."

From C.S. Lewis:

"Christianity agrees with Dualism that this universe is at war. But it does not think this is a war between independent powers. It thinks it is a civil war, a rebellion, and that we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel.

Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage."

Christians are both persecuted and *definitely* on the winning side against the devil. The threat is less that outside forces can rip that victory from us, and more that we might choose to let it go, by picking something over Him.

This is where I think the "Keep Your Identity Small" is one of the most helpful tools for Christian barbarism. To be Christ's is one claim that everything else must fall before. But it can lead to a lot of different ways of living in the world (soldier, mother, cloistered virgin, bank teller).

Expand full comment

Re footnote 1, is my understanding correct that (legibility aside) the advantage of agriculture is more calories per square meter of land (though not per hour of labor)?

Expand full comment

Awesome - love Wodehouse and the Psmith books - and adore the iconoclasm and insight of Scott (weapons of the weak is my favorite). Living in the hills of Taos NM i recognize these people and strategies - would suggest you also read Ranajit Guha (elementary aspects of peasant insurgency) and several works of the subaltern studies school -

Expand full comment