Review of “Breakfast with the Dirt Cult” by Samuel Finlay

It’s hard to tell who reads this blog, but I get the distinct impression that readers from the US military are over-represented compared to the general population.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting or emailing with quite a few such people and they seem to have found the red pill that leads to this dark corner of the internet in one of three ways:

1) They get deployed and they wonder what the fsck is going on. Moldbug describes the hot and cold war between the State Department and the Department of Defense. If you’re getting shot at on behalf of USG by people who have been armed by another part of USG, his description of the hits close to home (so to speak).

2) They’ve had direct contact with a reporter for a significant period of time . . . and then they read the articles generated by said reporter. The disparity between what they know happened and what they read about makes them wonder.

3) They observe women around soldiers. Nothing seems to bring out the worst in women more clearly than the military (there’s some good descriptions of this in the book). The connection between the more political reactionary sites and the more general manosphere sites continue to get stronger and stronger.

Certain things demand explanation, and certain things can’t be explained by mainstream sources.

What leads a soldier to the red pill? What happens when he takes it? The book answers these questions for one particular soldier.

Mr Finlay was kind enough to send me the book (available here), which is a sort of fiction/non-fiction hybrid. Finlay served in Bosnia and Afghanistan and that’s where the events take place.

The book is split between Finlay’s experiences in the military and his pursuit of a woman (a Canadian stripper to be precise). But it’s really about one man’s discovery of the red pill.

The book is great. At times, it delves perhaps a little too overtly into red pill preachiness, but that’s also part of its charm.

I seem to remember that H. L. Mencken once that there is something ridiculous about a man that’s never been in combat and a woman that’s never given birth (I can’t seem to find this quote). If Mencken didn’t say it, he should have.

I assume that Finlay is roughly my age. My life couldn’t be more removed from combat of any kind. I have a couple friends in the military, but none of them are on the front lines in any way. Too many people in my generation are totally removed from this experience – the book’s worth reading for insights into this experience if nothing else.

There’s a lot more I’d like to say about the book, but I don’t want to give anything away. If you regularly read this blog, hopefully I’ve said enough to pique your interest.


35 Responses to Review of “Breakfast with the Dirt Cult” by Samuel Finlay

  1. asdf says:

    It’s hard for me to understand military service. I get why the extremely poor do it, but why would someone with options do it? It should be clear from a young age that the people ordering you around don’t give a shit about you and that the wars you fight are pointless. All the data I see on military men shows it isn’t a great lifestyle. How do they keep filling out the officer core (men who presumably have options)?

    • Foseti says:

      Patriotism is sincere and powerful. Even if it’s sometimes misplaced.

      In addition, war is fascinating. Is it really that hard to see why someone would opt for that over modern work?

    • James James says:

      “officer core” -> “officer corps”

    • James James says:

      The wars are pointless or even actively harmful, but the lifestyle can be good when not deployed: plenty of exercise, decent facilities (pool, squash courts…) on site, food cooked for you, and not at a desk all the time if you’re lucky.

    • Handle says:

      What Foseti said, but if you don’t mind, I’ll alter your question a bit.

      A lot of young men do a lot of things without thinking or researching too much about it, influenced a great deal by what the Marxists would call “False Consciousness” – that is, the vaguely-formed perceptions and beliefs formed in one’s mind by passively-received social messages and some predictable personal interpolations (with lots of preying upon human nature cognitive bias thrown in).

      As an aside, it’s my personal pet theory that a lot of what people do in general, and the kinds of life-path decisions they make, it based on the prevailing “false consciousness” because people naturally pick up on what’s respectable as a kind of best available advice for how to get ahead in life, achieve success as one’s goal, and, more abstractly “be happy”. Religious folks talk about the “life script” happiness-model that is taught, but as with all teaching, it’s more learned by exposure to examples, and experience of observing people living it, that by formal pedagogy. And, as always, it’s hard to compete with what your kids are also experiencing, which is peers and media, unless you bubble them off. If you’re going to establish metrics for society, I think a good one is “how effective is the prevailing happiness model at actually making people happy.” What’s that gap. I think a lot of Reactionaries base their various social critiques on an instinctive notion that this metric is declining for what’s left of the West. There’s “truth value”, but the real truth is the nature of the average human mentality, so even with noble lies, the “happiness model accuracy” metric is important. As I’ve said before, I think the Mormons and some Orthodox Jews are pretty much the only ones getting these things right for average folks. Cognitive elites will be ok no matter how crazy their beliefs are – they’re clever enough to adjust.

      “What’s it like to be an X?” Most of what a young man “knows” he gets from the Hollywood and Media arms of the Cathedral, which presents him with a sensational and dramatic and mostly false picture, naturally. Young men naturally want to “fight” and “experience drama and adventure” and do something that is “respected” and “have interesting experiences and be able to tell good stories”. If you get paid to do it, and have fantasies of getting to make yourself into Rambo, and it’s only for a few years, and you go get college paid for, well, pretty cool.

      Women too, a lot nowadays, but they have different social fantasies in mind. It’s a big deal for a lot of them to imagine themselves as that rare woman on the cover of some magazine with the headline, “Woman really awesome at being X” the subtext being “X is traditionally thought of as a man’s thing.”

      Now, here’s how you should adjust your question. One sees a huge amount of first-tour attrition and turnover in the military. There are various reasons for this. A lot of people come in just wanting to do one tour. Some people over-assess themselves, and discover they’re just not cut out for it, or a poor fit. But some people come in with silly Hollywood or Feminism or something-inspired fantasies, and quickly realize their error and depart at the first opportunity.

      The question is, why holds the people that stay who don’t have to. They now know what the military is like. They could usually make more money and have easier lives doing something else. As they mature, they start to understand the world a lot better, and probably become a little more cynical about patriotism and the government. And they settle down and form families, which compounds the sacrifices they are asked to make.

      And yet many stay. War and National Security can indeed be intellectually fascinating and/or fun at certain levels and in certain jobs. There is some truth to the otherwise false consciousness.

      But there is also Patriotism. You may scoff at it, as many secularists scoff at the religious, and many players scoff at the married. You may call all these people “deluded” if you want. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe their experience of life is different. But what do the have in common? It is love.

      Some men genuinely love their wives and children and love being married and are willing to sacrifice fresh sexual conquests for their loves. Some men genuinely love their God, and their faith amplifies their lives. And Some men genuinely love their country, their neighbors, their communities, even if the people in charge of the administration of the national power are, well, evil, insane, and, even more sinisterly, determined to crush the kind of people most likely to be patriots.

      Mao once said, (in relation to the Nationalists and the the Taiwan situation), “All Patriots Belong to One Family.” There are a lot of overtones of meaning to dissect in that statement, as there always are in Chinese, but one of them is that the real Patriots on both sides (and indeed, everywhere and always) are probably more like each other than they are like their average countrymen. (Just as elites are increasingly transnational in their character).

      But when you are one of those that loves, and you are surrounded by others who love similarly, doing the things you all love, well, that’s like a “home” – like the French say, “Chez Moi” – my place. And, like other loves, it holds a man with fidelity and loyalty.

      • Samson J. says:

        Wow, I bet nobody was expecting such a great reply. All I could think of was this.

      • asdf says:

        How is patriotism related to being part in a counter productive war though? I mean joining to fight in WWII is patriotic. Joining to fight in Iraq? Not buying it. We haven’t had a “good war” in a long time.

        I get that ONCE you join you need to stop asking questions and follow orders. However, it doesn’t tell me why people join.

      • Samson J. says:

        How is patriotism related to being part in a counter productive war though?

        I think you are overestimating the average young man’s speed of maturation. Even the bright guys don’t realize until their late twenties or so that these wars are pointless at best, wrong at worst. And the stronger the patriotism was to begin with, the longer it takes to eat that red pill.

    • joetexx says:

      “Contrary to popular belief almost nobody actually fought in WWII. About thirteen million Americans were in uniform, of whom less than a million saw any type of combat. The rest of us sat around on base and watched movies. ”

      Gore Vidal

      The military offers a low level of security and a fair benefit package, better than many people, even those with a fairly high level of skills and options, can command in the civilian market with its attendant economic risks.

      And the physical hazards and discomforts of military service, though real, are often greatly exaggerated. As in police work, much the force doesn’t often encounter them.

  2. Jack says:

    FYI it’s “pique your interest”, not “peak your interest”. Pique means “to provoke or arouse”, which is what you meant to say.


    “The woman who has not had a child remains incomplete, ill at ease, and more than a little ridiculous. She is in the position of a man who has never stood in battle; she has missed the most colossal experience of her sex.” — H. L. Mencken

  4. Jehu says:

    Ask yourself this. Why did ‘Fight Club’ have such a strong cultural resonance with a lot of men in the US? When you grok that, you’ll have the answer to your question.

    Particularly for members of the American warrior caste, it is strongly in our nature to fight. It speaks to us, in fact it speaks to what is the foundation of any other virtues that we might have, or not have, courage. It is the only thing that Satan can’t successfully twist in our minds as ‘not a virtue’. To attempt to do so is almost as comic as ‘Samwise the Strong’…the super gardener that the Ring tempted him to be in the Lord of the Rings. It is why the Enemy has serious reservations about triggering open warfare, despite the possibilities for cruelties without count or measure.

    • asdf says:

      Dude, what about getting blown up by an IED in Iraq to make Cheney rich has to do with virtue?

      Tyler Durden would not have supported most modern wars. He would have looked at them like he looks at most corporate BS.

      • Jehu says:

        There’s a serious shortage of ways to unambiguously prove one’s virtue in the US at present. This age is a ridiculously unheroic one. That’s why the military still has a draw despite it being obscenely misused.

        This is why I’m actually in favor of the way the military is being dismantled by the Cathedral. It is most likely to be used against me and mine when the time comes. Also, when its banners dim enough in the public mind and become desacralized, even to the warrior caste, there comes an opportunity for…shall we say…other banners. Banners of a dark enlightenment. But your questionw as why do the semi-conscious members of the American military caste still swell its ranks, and that’s, IMO, the answer.

      • Foseti says:

        asdf, I don’t understand why it’s hard to understand. Virtue through military service are as old as Homer.

        I agree with your other points. Indeed, I hope men like Samuel Finlay will realize that the US isn’t what they think it is (Finlay, incidentally, does come to realize something at least similar to this). Nevertheless, working on an oil rig isn’t at all like getting shot at.

      • Samson J. says:

        There’s a serious shortage of ways to unambiguously prove one’s virtue in the US at present. This age is a ridiculously unheroic one. That’s why the military still has a draw despite it being obscenely misused.

        Great way of putting it, J. It seems not uncommon to me, amongst military history enthusiasts, to wistfully wish that one could have participated in this or that historical battle or war. Obviously in a certain sense this is insane and grossly naive. In another sense, what it represents is the deep desire of normal men to prove themselves worthy.

      • asdf says:

        I get the idea of “proving oneself worthy”, but couldn’t these guys just become boxers or something? It’s one thing to join the military when there are no wars but there have been an awful lot in the last decade.

        I guess I just can’t get over the finality of it. Once you sign up, your a slave. If your master proves to be insufficient you have no redress. Even if I’m in a hurry to “prove myself” I’d like to prove myself while remaining in control of myself. It’s hard to read about involuntary third tours in Iraq and not think everyone who signs up for the military is fucking retarded.

  5. joetexx says:

    Lest I sound too cynical, military service is genuinely prestigious and respected amongst much of the electorate – especially in the Marines and elite units – SEALS, special forces, combat pilots.

    it is still a good background for those ambitious for a career in public service or politics.

    Somewhere on the net is an essay called something like ‘America’ s ruling warrior elite’. It focuses strictly on the Presidents. Though only Grant, Eisenhower, and the unfortunately brief William Henry Harrison were career men, many presidents had military experience and virtually all who did used it to political advantage. Andrew Jackson was a famous soldier; of the post Civil War Republicans, Hayes, Garfield, and Benjamin Harrison had held general rank. TR had San Juan Hill and the Rough Riders.

    FDR had been heavily involved with the Navy as assistant secretary and it was his pet service. Truman had been an artillery major in the Great War, although as Dwight Macdonald observed, it didn’t take.

    JFK, LBJ, and Nixon had combat records though in Johnson’s case his exposure was about eight minutes long. And Carter was an Annapolis man with some active service in a relatively prestigious naval specialty.

    • fnn says:

      The “old, weird America” is dead. See Clinton and Obama-just to indicate two of the more obvious data points. .

    • ivvenalis says:

      Military service is prestigious, but I don’t think it’s the way it was for even Bush Sr. Who has *recently* used their military experience for political advancement? Jim Webb? It did work for Kerry and McCain…many years ago.

      Our leaders are lawyers and merchants and bureaucrats. Some guy who spends 20-30 years in military circles isn’t going to have anywhere close to the kind of influence outside those circles that someone of comparable abilities who spent that time in State or working directly for a political party or who got incredibly rich. The only military man who’s become a household name since Desert Storm is probably Petraeus, and what are the odds anyone without an interest in the military would have heard about him if he hadn’t sort-of salvaged the entire Iraq situation?

  6. joetexx says:

    I unfairly left out the senior Bush -alas, he is an easy man to overlook – who had an honorable record as combat pilot in the Second War.

  7. fnn says:

    Go to the North Dakota oilfields. Or get a more mundane job and do MMA or mountain climbing in your free time.

  8. joetexx says:

    “Courage is reckoned the greatest of all virtues; because, unless a man has that virtue, he has no security for preserving any other.”

    “We have more respect for a man who robs boldly on the highway, than for a fellow who jumps out of a ditch, and knocks you down behind your back. Courage is a quality so necessary for maintaining virtue, that it is always respected, even when it is associated with vice.”

    Doctor Samuel Johnson

    Tyler Durden might regard Iraqi service as sucker bait, but he would respect the man who can disarm a live IED. At least as virtuous as getting your teeth knocked out in a basement slugfest.

    Yeah if I were thirty years younger I’ d make tracks for North Dakota.

    Among other things, as the saying goes, “Twenty below keeps the riff-raff out. “

  9. ivvenalis says:

    It was #3 for me, fyi.

  10. Tarl says:

    Too many people in my generation are totally removed from this experience…

    The valuable experience of fighting stupid, useless wars that do not serve American interests, using stupid methods deliberately designed to prevent victory, to “help” native populations who are corrupt, worthless, and actively despise us? Screw that. I wouldn’t advise any young American to have anything to do with that fiasco.

    If we’re not even trying to win, and it wouldn’t help your country even if we did, why put your life, health, and sanity on the line?

    • Foseti says:

      I’m not suggesting that we all fight. It’s just odd that wars are being fought and it doesn’t even matter to the rest of us.

      • Tarl says:

        The Establishment has gone out of its way to make sure the wars “don’t matter to the rest of us” — if those wars did matter, then questions like why are we fighting, what is the desired end state, how does this war benefit us, and why are we using (stupid) methods to fight would have a good deal more prominence.

  11. Anonymous says:

    There’s a serious shortage of ways to unambiguously prove one’s virtue in the US at present.

    Be admitted to an ivy league school
    Become a multi-millionaire from an internet venture
    Come out as a faggot
    Be black and get shot to death while trying to beat up a “white hispanic” guy

  12. Scott Locklin says:

    ” that H. L. Mencken once that there is something ridiculous about a man that’s never been in combat and a woman that’s never given birth (I can’t seem to find this quote). If Mencken didn’t say it, he should have.”

    It’s in “In defense of women.”
    I read the book too. Paid for it and everything. Worth the sheckels. Brought me back to some of my own youth, despite having never served in the military.

  13. […] Finlay’s Breakfast with the Dirt Cult. (Henry reviewed this one a while back and Foseti did even earlier.) Donovan, like others, seems to have liked […]

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