A Journal for Western Man

 

 

 

Toy Soldiers

G. Stolyarov II

Issue III- September 6, 2002

 

 
My fascination with them has sprouted from my earliest years, when my receptive youthful mind sought the development of its capacities through means that would intrigue me and carry me to ever greater heights. I received my first package of them on a New Year’s Day during my sixth year, and since my collection has grown to span thousands of figurines of various shapes and sizes, detailed and colorful machinery, projectiles, bases, battle standards, commanders, from eras beginning with the legionaries of Ancient Rome, ending with space-age mega-cyborgs, all objects of my curiosity as I inspected their uniforms, their armaments, their designs. The potential, I realized, was immense. So I began to, as youthful minds do, play with them, stage massive encounters where I was the master of the battlefield, or challenge matches against my father, cousin, or peers. The rules developed with the diversity of my contingents. Beginning with a mere firing of matches from small spring-loaded toy cannons, they evolved into a complex array of dice rolls, missiles, volley shots, cannonballs, fortifications, hit point systems, and, at last, multi-battle campaigns. I soon found myself drafting strategic maps of regions which the war would span.

My historical learning was nourished dramatically by this practice. Having the tools at hand, and an environment at home that welcomed such activity from me (playing with soldiers possesses undoubtedly far more positive effects than playing with those
other children in the backyard and submitting to their peer pressure) , I could assume the role of Scipio confronting Hannibal at Zama, or a commander of Imperial pikemen attempting to circumvent an ambush concocted by clever Swedish musketeers during the Thirty Years’ War, or a heroic Russian commander of marines withstanding four hundred days at the Siege of Leningrad, or Marshal Zhukov turning the tides of World War II at Stalingrad, or Eisenhower commanding the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Every time I attempted to fathom the situation of one of these, my curiosity unwaveringly extended to literature. Books of military history and strategy piled themselves up rapidly atop my shelves. I became immersed in history itself, relating the wars of various ages to each other and to the overall conditions that initiated them. I began to realize the complexity of human society, its desires, its animosities, its structures, its leaders. It was an enthralling journey. It extended also into the realms of computer strategy games, chess, and, unusually enough, literature and its revelations that would amplify my knowledge of the world and its circumstances, first applied by the child Stolyarov to playing the Great Game (hence the beginnings of my imperialistic philosophical outlook).

All throughout this time, a single military figure of transcendent prominence entered the scope of my knowledge and acquired a firm footing within it. Napoleon Bonaparte, soldier, strategist, statesman, author, mathematician, scientist, reformer, libertarian… I soon realized that there was more to the man than mere battles and conquest. I finally recognized the ideals that he was promoting through his exploits: meritocracy, individual rights, prosperity, exploration, colonization, rule of law, religious freedom. The great man had great values to spread to the world, and, battle and ideology combined, instilled these virtues firmly within my conscience. I began to become fascinated not merely with the facts, the arms, the uniforms, the cunning of winning an encounter, although these in their logic and utility possess still an astounding appeal, but also I began to dream. What if Napoleon’s ideas had become reality? Alas, Arthur Wellesley, you backward Duke of Wellington, because of you it is not so! Yet what of the future? Would they not be practical in a world seven centuries from now, where the technological progress of man has established a firm footing for outstanding moral progress as well? Thus, I began to increasingly focus in the direction of fantasizing, in that of science fiction and futuristic warfare in outer space, my battles meanwhile assuming an ever-increasing scale, with now complex campaign databases, hundreds of main and subordinate leaders, maps of entire nations, cities, rivers, forests, regions of space, planets, cosmic stations. It expanded into a universe of about forty major powers, shifting alliances, distinct monarchs, emperors, presidents, prime-ministers, political parties, clever advisors, scientists developing outlandish futuristic technologies. Anything my enriched imagination could develop was up to my standards. There was no barrier, no censure to fear, no disapprobation to expect from anyone nearby, for this was my universe, in its (now as I retrospect upon it) remarkable complexity, devised for the simple purpose of providing the child Stolyarov with food for thought and fantasy. I began to introduce my friends to my massive endeavors, often teaching them complex games I had devised for vast living room floors, as well as notebooks on lengthy car journeys. I was able then to transform a slate of whiteboard or a piece of graph paper into a massive intergalactic struggle. And I relished it.

And when the remainder of them assumed their teenage mindsets, when they began to appreciate shopping to a greater extent than Charlemagne,  Abercrombie the clothing more than Abercrombie the British general (who, for one’s information, reformed and modernized King George’s men into an efficient fighting force shortly after their humiliating defeats during the American Revolutionary War), dating more than domination, and chatting more than charging, I would simply return to my abode, unfold my maps, invite my political leaders and my military heroes, and schedule a joust between champions in glimmering armor, clashing with the most intricately crafted weaponry, swords, maces, daggers, lances, spears, flails, bludgeons, war hammers, but struggling only to enhance their fighting prowess. After the termination of the match, they would sit down for a jolly old cup of tea and discuss international politics. Although this may seem to be (and is) quite a romanticized view, it truly granted me an understanding of the intricacies of combat, of the immense skill and artistic finesse required from medieval knights as well as the technological super-soldiers of today. And even if actual warfare may bring about destruction and suffering, which I wholly condemn, there are, as this ten-year-long experience had taught me, wars and struggles that are necessary, just, and desirable. It brings me great pride that this experience, this learning, this entertainment that I had so lengthily received has contributed to my comprehension of and support for this nation’s most recent endeavor, the War on Terrorism, designed to protect those very values that Napoleon and his good friend Thomas Jefferson wished to institute in this world, of which now the United States serves as the guiding light for other nations to follow.

So, good people, when you hear the pseudo-psychologists, the socialists, the anti-humanists state that toy soldiers are immoral, degrading, and promote school violence, I implore you to inspect historical figures, to study Saladin, whose entire childhood was spent in war games, and who, alongside his military exploits also founded hospitals and sanitation systems in Damascus, who held alongside him a cadre of the most prominent poets and scientists in the Arab world, to examine Napoleon Bonaparte, the greatest strategist of all time, who planned his military endeavors with armies of tin soldiers, whose legal (the Code Napoleon), institutional (the metric system, driving on the right side of the road), and scientific (the discovery of the Rosetta Stone) contributions to humanity are of boundless value, to acquaint yourself with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Germany’s greatest poet, scientist, philosopher, theologian, who was himself a soldier and an avid military enthusiast, who also played with toy soldiers, to learn about Winston Churchill, the adamant savior of Britain from the Third Reich, the individualist Prime-Minister who fought a world war in the face of dictatorship, who considered toy soldiers to be a favorite pastime. To condemn toy soldiers is to condemn all these irreplaceable figures, without whom we would all be immersed in a far greater misery than we are at present. Do those men seem dangerous to you? Do I seem immoral, degrading, or violent to you? Are there any but positive effects that such a lengthy adventure had had upon me as an ideologist and human being? My point is proven. So, friends of all ages, I urge you, pick up your old, dusty toys, your Julius Caesars and your George Pattons, and play, learn, explore, fantasize to your mind’s content. Dwell in the logic, in the calculation, in the excitement and noble aspirations to courage, defiance, and a better world order that such explorations inevitably bring about. We need more dreamers, more thinkers, more men of action and change. Are
you fit for the challenge?

G. Stolyarov II is a science fiction novelist, independent filosofical essayist, poet, amateur mathematician, composer, contributor to Enter Stage Right, Le Quebecois Libre, and the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Senior Writer for The Liberal Institute, and Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator, a magazine championing the principles of reason, rights, and progress. His newest science fiction novel is Eden against the Colossus. His latest non-fiction treatise is A Rational Cosmology. Mr. Stolyarov can be contacted at gennadystolyarovii@yahoo.com.

This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA’s Statement of Policy.

Click here to return to TRA's Issue III Index.

Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's new comprehensive treatise, A Rational Cosmology, explicating such terms as the universe, matter, space, time, sound, light, life, consciousness, and volition, at http://www.geocities.com/rational_argumentator/rc.html.

 

 

 

 

 

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