Culture, International

Not With a Bang, But a Whimper

There was a surreal echo of Hemingway’s love of danger in a recent wave of young Americans joining a conflict overseas, and then (albeit with less positive consequences) documenting it.

Hemingway was among the thousands who travelled to Spain between 1936 and 1938, to support the Republican side against Franco in the Spanish Civil War. In February, Ukrainian president Zelenskyy issued a formal call to foreigners to join an “international brigade” fighting for the Ukrainian side against Putin’s invasion. At least according to Ukrainian reports, an estimated 20,000 have signed up to help — and many view what they’re doing as fightback against “a 21st-century version of fascism”.

You would think the Weird Online Right, the contemporary subculture most concerned with masculinity would approve of this risk-taking. A recurring theme in such spaces is the perceived subjection of manliness to the shrunken, heroism-free horizons of modern life and the culture of “bugmen” it has produced. Perhaps the most influential sacred text of this subculture is Bronze Age Mindset, an unclassifiable “exhortation” written in 2018 and now immensely influential among disaffected young men…

But instead of lauding their bravery, the Very Online Right tends to dismiss Zelenskyy’s resistance as a “fight to the death for globalist oligarchs like Soros and Kolomoisky” and mock any evidence of fear, regret or incompetence displayed by the young foreigners flocking to help. This so-called “Reddit Battalion” has been widely mocked for having reportedly compromised operational security on the battlefield by continuing to post from their phones while in a warzone: their compulsion to document their experience emitting signals allowing their location to be pinpointed and shelled. Read more…

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