In the comment-thread to a recent post on hoplophobes, our reader ‘libertybelle’ put up a link to an excellent essay defining three human types. It deserves promotion to the front page.

We read:

If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen: a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath — a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? Then you are a sheepdog…

Having been bullied by “wolves” as a soft and bookish schoolboy, I began to study southern-Chinese martial arts in my teens — in other words, to develop my “capacity for violence”. (For this I owe a debt of gratitude to my father, who was a judo master, and who started me on this path; and to grandmaster William Chung, my sifu for the first decade of my training, whose harsh discipline made a man of me.) I have practiced this difficult system of scientific violence ever since, and have been teaching it for the past thirty-five years.

This is the attitude that has been drilled into my head from the beginning: that violence is to be avoided whenever possible, but applied without hesitation or remorse when necessary. Those who can master this have a duty, to the people around them and the civilization they love, to be what the author of this article calls “sheepdogs”.

Read the whole thing here.


  1. Troy says

    have a duty

    May I quote what I believe a relevant portion from The Declaration of Independence from a once noble republic that affirms this duty.

    But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security…

    We used to be an entire nation of sheepdogs. Now, not so much. Most Americans by into the following philosophy nowadays….

    You better stay home and do as you’re told. Get out of the road if you want to grow old -Roger Waters

    Posted November 7, 2015 at 1:26 pm | Permalink
  2. The Left’s Mission:


    Posted November 8, 2015 at 10:34 am | Permalink
  3. Whitewall says

    From the link to Sheep, Sheep Dogs etc–
    “Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I’m proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs.” I wonder if this is true and if so, how can it be measured?

    Posted November 8, 2015 at 11:22 am | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    Whitewall, I wouldn’t doubt that there’s some flexibility there, though I imagine that, as with all human traits, there’s a significant genetic influence.

    I seem to recall reading at one of the human-biodiversity websites someone making the argument that the Western European genome, and particularly the British genome, has become somewhat tamer and more docile as a result of cultural co-evolution over the past millennium or two, but I can’t recall offhand where I saw that.

    If you are really curious about this, I’d recommend, in particular, poking around at HBD Chick’s website. She is always digging into these questions, and in fact her lead post today touches on them.

    Posted November 8, 2015 at 12:11 pm | Permalink
  5. Malcolm says

    WW, I’ve just gone and had a quick look at HBD Chick’s place, and I think the posts collected under her “Self-Domestication” category might be of interest to you.

    Posted November 8, 2015 at 12:15 pm | Permalink
  6. Whitewall says

    From HBD Chick…
    “He (Hayek) observed that human groups that have developed favourable moral habits are the ones that succeed

    “Hayek: ‘Our basic problem is that we have three levels of moral beliefs. We have, in the first instance, our intuitive moral feelings, which are adapted to the small person-to-person society, where we act toward people that we know. Then we have a society run by moral traditions, which — unlike what modern rationalists believe — are not intellectual discoveries of men who designed them. They are an example of a process that I now prefer to describe by the biological term of group selection.

    “‘Those groups that quite accidentally developed favourable habits, such as a tradition of private property and the family, succeed but they never understood this.

    “‘So we owe our present extended order of human co-operation very largely to a moral tradition, of which the intellectual does not approve because it had never been intellectually designed. It has to compete with a third level of moral beliefs; the morals that intellectuals design in the hope that they can better satisfy man’s instincts than the traditional rules.

    “‘And we live in a world where the three moral traditions are in constant conflict: the innate ones, the traditional ones, and the intellectually designed ones…. You can explain the whole of social conflicts of the last 200 years by the conflict of the three…’.”

    And doesn’t the above summarize the last half century of American life? Some of us want to conserve what always works while others want to burn it all down and usher in the “rule of men”? Amazing.

    Posted November 8, 2015 at 1:12 pm | Permalink
  7. Whitewall says

    Henry, you have a way with words…

    Posted November 8, 2015 at 3:00 pm | Permalink
  8. Thank you, Robert. Words are my friends.

    Posted November 8, 2015 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

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