Why The "Proud Warrior Race" Is Doomed To Extinction
Imagine for the moment that the Templin Institute has completed its mission, and we now have a exhaustive catalog of every nation, faction, and organization from across every alternate world. And we’re no longer investigating them, but placing them into categories. Each civilization bears their own eccentricities and unique qualities, but we can at least begin to classify them along broad lines. We have the federation builders, who seek to unite disparate elements to achieve a common good. The Hegemonic Imperialists who work tirelessly to impose their own brand of order upon its citizenry and the plucky rebellion fighting to overthrow them. Then there’s the loose coalition of renegades and independents, or the unknowable Hive Mind whose legions act in singular purpose.
Slaving deposits, erudite explorers, xenophobic isolationists, however you might choose to label these categories, it's clear that different civilizations can share similar attributes and might be grouped together. So if we further imagine that we have all these categories all filled out, might come the temptation to compare them against one another. It's difficult to gauge what kind of civilizations are the most successful or have the greatest potential. But all things being equal, will Federation Builders always triumph over Hegemonic Imperialists? Will Evangelizing Zealots reliably conquer Harmonious Collectivists? Who can say, there are far too many variables to make any kind of firm proclamation.
But I think we can go out on a limb, and make a very strong argument that one category, one kind of civilization, is ultimately and perhaps tragically, doomed to fail: what we’re gonna call: the Proud Warrior Race. Now chances are based on the name alone, you can think of at least one nation or faction that fits into this category, but before going any further, it's still important to define exactly what we mean by this term. There’s no single definition of course, but the Templin Institute’s classification of a proud warrior race would be based on these central tenets or elements: Immense value placed on the mastery of combat techniques. The life of an individual warrior is dedicated almost solely to their craft.
A strong but strict code of honor, outlining the norms, rules and responsibilities of the individual, usually as related to warfare. A decentralized governmental structure in which rival familial clans, or some kind of tribal structure competes with or supersedes any national identity. A disproportionate devotion, or reverence towards war at the societal level that comes at the expense of economic, industrial, scientific, cultural, or another expression of state power. Now this definition doesn’t perfectly fit every civilization that might be named a Proud Warrior Race, there will always be exceptions. Nor does every warrior race have these elements in equal amounts, but for our purposes, it should be close enough.
So what is it about societies that embody these qualities that make them doomed to fail? Well, I think it comes down to a relatively simple answer: these four central facets of the Proud Warrior Race become increasingly inefficient and counterproductive as technology advances. And that’s the key part, a civilization with these traits can easily be successful during what we might call a Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, or maybe even later era, it might even be uniquely suited to thrive in these ages, but eventually technological progress will reach a tipping point. These central tenets become obsolete and what before might have been a major advantage, now becomes a glaring weakness. Let's look at them one by one. Immense value placed on the mastery of combat techniques.
The life of a warrior is dedicated almost solely to their craft. In an era where the most powerful weapons are swords and bows, this makes a lot of sense. These weapons and others like them require a great deal of skill to wield effectively.
A force of trained warriors who have spent decades practicing the intricacies of martial combat, are probably going to cut right through even a far larger army of untrained conscripts. But sooner or later, somebody is going to invent a new kind of weapon, one that can be deadly even in the hands of a novice. In most cases, you would expect this to be some kind of firearm and its invention starts the first ticking clock for the Warrior Race.
Now it might take a while for this weapon to be refined and be made available in large enough numbers, but once it reaches a tipping point and becomes the new standard, the nature of warfare changes. Practice and training are still important, but devoting your life to mastering the art of personal combat starts leading to diminishing returns. A master warrior who has devoted their entire life to the study of combat, who has mastered every weapon, is just as vulnerable to being killed by a bullet, as a novice conscript. Except the death of that master warrior now hits far harder, because it represents the loss of decades of investment in time, money and experience. While that conscript by contrast, was comparatively cheap to arm and train. His loss is no big deal.
And it's only going to get worse and worse for the Proud Warrior Race. As civilization continues to advance, warfare becomes more and more mechanized and sophisticated. The influence of the individual soldier on the course of any major conflict, that human element if you pardon the expression, starts to get stripped away. Artillery, tanks, aircraft, drones, walkers, interstellar starships, all of these things and hundreds of other elements are all just more nails in the coffin of a master warrior. As none of them require that a life be dedicated to their mastery, by contrast, the easier they are for an untrained person to learn, the better. So let’s move on to our second element: A strong but strict code of honor, outlining the norms, rules and responsibilities of the individual, usually as related to warfare.
Now in every war, there will invariably arise a moment in which a decision must be made between taking an action that has the potential to shorten the conflict, and upholding certain moral principles. And it should be stressed that when those moral principles are based around reducing needless cruelty or destruction, this is not a bad thing. Intentionally killing civilians and prisoners of war, torture, hostage taking, misuse of a flag of truce, these are all things that should not be acceptable, even on a battlefield during a time of war. But all too often, the strict code of honor of the Proud Warrior Race has more to do with personal glory and honor than limiting carnage. Weapons and tactics might be deliberately discarded, not because they cause unnecessary suffering, but because according to whatever code, they would damage the honor of whoever is using them. This can be admirable, but while Codes of Honor might attempt to bring some kind of fairness or sense of responsibility to a conflict, they also have the potential to needlessly prolong it, wasting even more lives and resources.
And what happens if whoever the Proud Warrior Race is fighting, doesn’t share the same moral code? Well, as the old saying goes “Stand in the ashes of a trillion dead souls and ask the ghosts if honor matters. The silence is your answer.” As gruesome as it is to say, having a flexible sense of morality is often useful in warfare, and sometimes necessary in hastening its end. Was eradicating the Formic race necessary for the survival of Earth? I don’t know, but I would want the discussions deciding that question to based on rational thinking, rather than some ancient code of behavior. A strict code of honor based around personal glory represents a possible weakness that just isn’t present in most other societies.
Onto our third tenet: A decentralized governmental structure in which rival familial clans, or tribal structures competes with or supersedes any national identity. For whatever reason, the Proud Warrior Race is often divided into Great Houses, Clans, Tribes, Kindreds, or whatever else. These groups act like states within a state, with their own governments, militaries and economies. Rivalries and civil wars between them are often a fundamental aspect of how political control over the greater nation is maintained or reformed. In some cases this is a near perfect representation of feudalism, while in others it’s been refined into something else. The proud warrior race is not the only kind of society to have this element present, but when combined with their other defining aspects, it aggravates even further the existing issues with this kind of civilization.
So what are these issues? Whether in wartime or peace, the potential of any civilization is going to be closely linked to its internal unity. A coherent national identity that can create solidarity across even diverse groups, a strong political order that can accommodate or suppress internal divisions, and a belief in the legitimacy of state institutions are all effective tools a nation can rely on. But when powerful families are competing with the national government, those tools can’t be used to their full effect because they’re inherently dangerous to these different tribes, clans or houses. The weaker the national government, the stronger the houses.
And if a nation is in the middle of being invaded, it would be disastrous for the armed forces to be split between a number of rival groups each with their own doctrines, strategies, and equipment. If some of those groups have rivalries with each other, and maybe even refuse to work alongside one another, then the problems get even worse. It’s even possible that some of these groups might be more willing to work with the enemy if they think they’re standing might be improved by the defeat of the central government. This is not how a stable nation functions. This brings us to our last tenet.
A disproportionate devotion, or reverence towards war at the societal level that comes at the expense of economic, industrial, scientific, cultural, or another expression of state power. For this one, we need to look at the concept of “total war”. This is a type of warfare first discussed in the 18th century but was really solidified as a concept during the two world wars. And the timing I don’t think was any accident. By the 20th century, the methods by which a war might be fought had grown so all-encompassing, that basically nothing was excluded.
Every resource, every piece of infrastructure, every person became a tool needed by the war effort. This was the new way in which large scale conflicts would be fought, anything less than a total war would be disastrous for the side that couldn’t fully commit. But ironically, most examples of the Proud Warrior Race are less suited to fighting a total war, because of their rigid consideration of what does, and doesn’t contribute to the war effort. They only look to the obvious. To them, only the jobs directly involved with fighting on the front line are honorable or worth investing in. This is a narrow view incompatible with total war.
Industrial workers, economists, engineers, scientists, these are all professions with limited direct involvement in battles and campaigns, but they all contribute enormously when mobilized under the doctrine of total war. And those careers are just the start of a very long list. Let’s pull a job out of a hat and look at meteorologists. I think most Proud Warrior Races would say that studying the weather is no fit job for a warrior. And yet, right around the 2nd World War, military meteorology drastically grew in importance. Turns out if you’re sailing 100,000 men across the English Channel, it’s very helpful to know ahead of time when the seas are going to be calm and the skies clear, or at least calm and clear enough.
Let’s pull another job out of the hat. Italian Chef. Again, the Proud Warrior Race would say, making ravioli is no fit job for a warrior.
But again, right on schedule during World War 2 it became increasingly critical to keep large armies fed, no matter where they were in the world. And that’s how Ettore Boiardi, or you know, Chef Boyardee, gets awarded the Order of Lenin for his contributions in supplying rations to the Red Army. Admittedly, these are just some fun random examples, but I include them to support my greater point. Wars are not only won on the battlefield, but across the entire nation that's fighting them. And in an era in which technology is evolving so quickly, it’s not always obvious what elements of society will be the key to a military victory.
By ignoring certain facets of their own civilization in favor of only those elements that are obviously related to the military, they’re weakening their ability to win a war, not strengthening it. But you don’t have to take my word for it, let’s look at some examples of the Proud Warrior Race and see how the central tenets of their civilizations have contributed to their decline. And I think we have 3 very good case studies: The Klingon Empire, The Krogan, and the Mandalorians. These are all civilizations that while successful during earlier periods of their history, now struggle as an interstellar nation.
For most people, the Klingon Empire is going to be the archetype for the Proud Warrior Race and with good reason; their civilization expresses all four of our central tenets to an almost cartoonish extent. But the Templin Institute has discussed the decline of the Klingon Empire before, so in this instance I’d like to focus on their Great Houses and how they represent such a huge weakness in the integrity of the state. By the 24th century, the Klingon Empire had begun to run out of places to expand. Their major neighbors were equally powerful and capable states and there was no guarantee of any easy victory in any potential war. In fact it was far more likely that a major conflict would be just as damaging to the Klingons as it would be to their opponents. For the Proud Warrior Race, this is a major problem.
When your entire culture is focused on warfare, but warfare is not good for your culture, what do you do? If you’re one of the Great Houses of the Klingon Empire, powerful families with their associated armies and fleets, your answer is you begin to turn on each other. This isn’t unusual, not since the time of Kahless have all the houses been truly united, but without a common enemy to periodically unite them, the Empire starts to fracture. And because of this, there is no civilization in the Alpha or Beta Quadrants of the galaxy as easy to destabilize as the Klingons. All the Romulans need to do for example is begin secretly funding a House who doesn’t like the reigning government, and in a very short order you have all the conditions necessary for a civil war. Whereas the Romulans, and pretty much every other government rivalling the Klingons, are entirely immune to this same kind of destabilization being effective against them. Compared to the Klingons, the Romulan government is robust, centralized, and most importantly, the Romulan people consider themselves to be Imperial citizens first, and members of whatever family or sub-group they might belong to, a distant second.
Any aspect of the Romulan Star Empire hostile to the government, is likely a weak fringe group, and even the assistance of the Klingon’s won’t change. Even a state like the Federation with thousands of different peoples or groups within it, can’t be manipulated in the same way. Partially because Starfleet maintains a sizable monopoly on the use of force, but mainly because every group in the Federation benefits when they work together. A useful discovery on Vulcan isn’t greedily reserved for their use alone, but instead distributed across the entire Federation. The Klingon Great Houses however, have no such incentive, individually, they can really only benefit at the expense of their rivals.
So what about the Krogan? Well to me, the Krogran represents the natural end-state for any Proud Warrior Race that fails to evolve into something else. When discussing that first tenet, we talked about how the invention of firearms is the kind of development that can really shatter the traditional notions of what it means to be a trained warrior. So what happens then, when a culture obsessed with warfare invents nuclear weapons? Well this.
When a civilization possesses weapons capable of destroying itself, it’s often described as walking a tightrope stretched across some never-ending abyss. For that civilization to save its people from a nuclear holocaust or whatever else, they just can’t use these weapons, theyhave to keep walking the tightrope no matter how difficult it might be. The alternative is extinction. In our own world, mankind has been walking the tightrope for just about 80 years and has been mostly successful so far. And we have countless examples of world leaders throughout history, warning the public on the dangers of possessing weapons. I particularly like this quote from John F. Kennedy
"World order will be secured only when the whole world has laid down these weapons which seem to offer us present security but threaten the future survival of the human race. That armistice day seems very far away. The vast resources on this planet are being devoted more and more to the means of destroying, instead of enriching human life but the world was not meant to be a prison in which man awaits his execution "State of the Union Address, January 11, 1962 Now can you imagine any Korgran, or any other member of a Proud Warrior race expressing these sentiments? It is completely inimical to their way of life. And if a Krogran did try to express these sentiments, it clearly didn’t work. Their homeworld became exactly what JFK described: a prison on which the Krogan awaited their extinction.
It was only through the actions of the Citadel Council that they eventually became a spacefaring civilization. Most examples of the Proud Warrior Race won’t be so luckly, and I’m willing to bet that 9 out of 10 will end up as nothing more than a pile of bones in an irradiated ruin. Now our final example, the Mandalorians.
At first glance, they might seem better suited to avoiding the pitfalls of the Proud Warrior Race. The idea of the Mandalore seems to have really come into its own after the development of blasters, not before, so they’re able to better integrate these weapons into their society. There was a strong national government that had mostly constrained the power of the individual Clans, and had even attempted to become a more pacifist state.
The problem with the Mandalorians is that they just weren’t given enough time for this transition to be completed. By the time the Empire became wary of their potential power, they were split between competing ideologies and unable to present a unified defense. Now it's true that against the power of the Empire their world was probably doomed, but the potential existed for the Mandalorians to create a government in exile, scattered refugee colonies and a hidden fleet that might one day join the Rebellion. Instead, the Mandalorian national identity was just too brittle to survive the destruction of their homeworld. In its place, the survivors have mainly retreated into their old Clans with their old ideologies. But these Clans are uniquely terrible at re-asserting Mandalorian statehood.
We can see this particularly in the actions of the Tribe, a Mandalorian Clan that routinely splinters itself and throws away opportunities to better the position of their people. Its members might call themselves Mandalorians, but they’re really members of the Tribe first, and rarely work with any other Clans. Their creed seems to promote individualism above all, but this is strangling the potential of the larger whole. Most cultures for example would hold their coming-of-age ceremonies somewhere not too likely to be attacked by a giant sea monster, but not the Tribe, that wouldn't fit the code. Mandalorians are nearly extinct and these people can’t even induct a new member into their group without it turning into a net-loss for their total population. Honoring some ancient practices, is overriding every pragmatic concern.
The Mandalorians seem like a people that were given guns, jetpacks and spaceships very earlier in their history, and rather than reforming their military and society to make the best use of these tools, just decided to jam them into whatever systems existed at the time. It’s not enough to have these weapons if you don’t really know how to use them effectively. You can give uncontacted tribes people in the Amazon M4A1 rifles and Apache Helicopters, but they’re not gonna instantly turn into the US Army. Something like this though, is what I’m pretty sure happened to the Mandalorians. And we can see this in the aforementioned sea-monster incident. A heavily armed group of Mandalorians is attacked so you would think they would be pretty good at dealing with this situation, but they’re not.
In their response we can see the total lack of any unifying structure. When confronted, every Mandalorian does their own thing. Some rush into a position to fire, without checking to see if they’re blocking the sightlines of those already firing. Orders are given, but not to anyone specifically.
Who was supposed to get the young ones to the cave? Some jetpack onto the monster’s back, further interfering with those trying to lay down fire from the ground. Mandalorians might be formidable warriors, but their Creed is more concerned about individual actions than a collective response. Din Djarin didn’t even radio ahead to say he was shooting torpedoes into this whole mess, he just did it.
It’s a miracle he didn’t kill his own people. If the Mandalorians were truly concerned about being formidable warriors, their code would look less like this: Don’t ever take off your helmet. And more like this: https://www.benning.army.mil/Infantry/DoctrineSupplement/ATP3-21.8/appendix_j/BattleDrill_3/Introduction/index.html#:~:text=(1)%20Return%20fire%20immediately.,assault%20through%20the%20kill%20zone.&text=(2)%20Return%20fire%20immediately.,position%20and%20throw%20smoke%20grenades. And this leads me to my final point.
Which is the same as my first one. Over the course of this video I’ve tried to argue that the Proud Warrior Race is less and less successful as technology advances and to survive, it needs to evolve into something else. But what does the Proud Warrior Race need to evolve into? Well, it’s what I’m going to call the “Martial State”. Both types of civilizations are what we might call “warlike” but the Martial State expresses this in a different way.
Its tenets look like this: Immense influence placed within a military industrial complex that can drastically affect public policy. Earlier traditions, practices and ceremonies considered useful are adopted, exploited and modified to support the aims of the state. A centralized government that exerts unrivaled authority across its constituent parts.
Civilian institutions include paramilitary elements, designed to ease the transition between peacetime and wartime. This kind of government has its own advantages and disadvantages, but a thorough investigation into the Martial State will need to wait for a future video. Instead let’s quickly look at one example: The Turian Hierarchy. The Turians are the perfect example of a civilization that has successfully completed the transition from Proud Warrior Race to Martial State. A period of public service is required of every citizen.
Its government and entire society are organized under militaristic principles. Its military includes codes of honor, but are centered around discipline rather than personal glory. And perhaps most importantly, though so much of their society is dedicated to warfare, it’s not because they are actively seeking it out, rather they want to be prepared for it should it arrive unexpectedly.
What the Martial State has that the Proud Warrior Race does not, is a more thorough understanding of how wars are fought and won. An understanding that can evolve and be refined as technology advances. The Proud Warrior Race by contrast.
is stuck in the past. It accepts any new ideas that can fit into its society, and rejects the ones that don’t. It is rigid, outdated, and doomed to fail. But that of course is just my opinion. And even though I will challenge anyone who disagrees with me to ritual combat inside the Arena of Truth, I’d like to hear your thoughts. What civilization comes to mind first when you think about the “Proud Warrior Race”.
Do you agree with my assessment? And has a giant alligator ever attacked your birthday party? Let me know in the comments below, and until next time, this has been incoming.