Table of contents

The Expendables II 1

On politics as battle-born
Some notes on mercenary warfare, to draw out the limits of politics & of knowledge, as they emerge in warfare

We note, in the beginning, that the mercenary hero is very like the comic poet. They understand money is a political problem. When people pay, they accept the aloof in the city, those whose unique skills prove that money is worthless, or an illusion. We leave our readers to follow the contradictions & comparisons.

We justify our comparison in this way: Throughout the story, our mercenary heroes jokingly insist that heroism is learned by hearing about it. Heroes exist in stories. They not only mock the exaggerated stories of heroic greatness, but also the heroes’ tendency to speak in a dramatic manner. We say for the benefit of our well-read readers that only heroes are compelled by their nature to speak in metaphors, therefore that heroes are unwittingly scientists, & therefore more serious than all scientists.

Our heroes have only one science. That they have mastered it they prove by killing & teaching others to do the same. But they do not pretend everyone is up to the job; & they are intensely hierarchical. They are therefore much more political than democracy will allow. This is another necessity for humor: When all your actions revolve around death, seriousness could become taxing…

This is the obvious center of a massive problem: These mercenaries seem rather happy-go-lucky. Why should not they be more careful? There is no careful way of waging war. Some revel in the destruction, but most do not, they merely fear. The importance of attaining the element of surprise in war is a consequence of the fundamental truth of war: Everything that is said to be is in motion. If acting in war is the truth of human action, we learn not only that we never know enough to act successfully, but that this limit is the key to our suffering & inevitable death.

You may be surprised to notice that the criminals are less depressed by these thoughts than our heroes. They may be said to be more hopeful about the good that is acquired with massive destruction & great amounts of money. Perhaps their enthusiasm for slaughter would be diminished if they were more fearful of the consequences of their actions.

Our mercenaries have not concluded from their science that they should go into business for themselves. This limit on their mastery of the art of war takes us to the edge of the city. We have seen others try it, & fail. We are aware uneasily that such men could not only destroy, but recreate countries. Consider our villain, who is civilized enough that he limits his plans for world destruction to the lucrative plans. What if he decided to acquire everything for himself?

A much-needed comic improvement on the original. Not to be missed.