What is an Overmanwarrior and the Train Metaphor?

Sometimes, when a question is asked, the answer can involve many complicated interconnected themes. Such an answer may involve digging deep. So here it goes:

The term overmanwarrior has certainly created interest of many who hear it? The overman is a concept used in my novel, The Symposium of Justice, where a young woman describes her admiration for a freedom fighter roaming the streets at night in her neighborhood. Being a fan of Friedrich Nietzsche, she learned about the concept of an overman in school by that philosopher which best described her feelings for the controversial vigilante doing the work of a warrior fighting for justice when all others have seemed to have fallen to corruption.

A warrior does not always constitute a person that takes up arms against another human being. Some wars don’t even involve weapons or direct conflict. They are wars of ideas, and such a war is where America currently finds itself. There are hundreds of groups dedicated to the purpose of advancing or repealing current government positions. But, groups are never the answer, because groups are always subject to corruption.

The initial problem with human culture is that although at a core somewhere deep in our unconsciousness, we crave independence; our conscious behavior is still very group oriented. The reason for this is that it is safe, and all humans that breath air, and have a heart beat considers safety as a dominate thought, so self preservation is at the front of everyone’s minds.

The below graph is an example from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance a very fine book by Robert M. Pirsig of quality, of what makes a quality person or great leader. What is featured below is a diagram of a train traveling down a train track. The track, ahead of the train branches off in many directions. And the decisions for turning the train down one of those tracks is at the front.

Click to view:
Quality display

Now the train itself represents the organization. And the leaders of that train you would think would be at the front of the train. But most of the time, what happens, is that the leadership is at the back, because in the back, it is safe. In the back, if the train crashes, the people at the front of the train are the first to feel it. The one’s in the back can jump off to save themselves, if need be. Also, if it is discovered that the train is on the wrong track, the ones in the back can cast blame on the direction chosen.

What any employee realizes, unless you are fortunate enough to work for a company where the leadership is at the front of the train, is that unless you join the leadership at the back of the train, you are vulnerable. In short, we all know people who do this. We call them ass-kissers.

Organizations that I would most attribute to having leaders that spend their time at the front of their institutional train are Microsoft, when Bill Gates was heading the company. George Lucas and all his satellite companies like Industrial Light and Magic, THX, and Lucasfilm. Richard Branson and his many companies, but those are leaders that are very short in supply.

To illustrate the point here, let’s use Star Wars as an example, one of my favorite films, and sources of literary entertainment. That is one of the most popular films in history, and the original trilogy of films is over thirty years old, and is still beloved by fans.

Now consider, that film making institutions have had thirty years to produce similar film makers as George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Yet they have been unsuccessful to do it. Film Schools have had thousands upon thousands of hungry enrolments, yet there is nobody, and I mean nobody capable to produce at the level of George Lucas. And when I say that I’m talking not just about making a great movie, many critics would say that Star Wars is not a good movie. What I’m talking about in a good movie is a film that is recognizable to most anyone in the world, and characters that have become part of the human fabric and is almost as recognizable as the members of most people’s family.

Walt Disney was a high school drop out. Lucas was a man that had his life change after a near fatal car crash, and Spielberg snuck onto the Universal Studios lot and pretended to be important until he talked his way into a position. What all those men have in common is they didn’t follow the rules, and stayed close to the front of their individual trains so they could quickly direct themselves.

Oh, you were about to mention Jim Cameron, director of blockbusters like Avatar, Terminator, and Titanic. He was a truck driver for a while, until he became possessed with the hunger to make movies. And he has a long history of pushing rules to their absolute limits. He certainly doesn’t play it safe.

Now I use film makers as an example because I know quite a bit about the industry and it’s always been interesting to me, of how a film will dismantle their teams at the end of production, and re-assemble at the start of a new. It’s a perpetual state of starting a new company with each film, which presents a whole sector of problems of their own. But the point is, no institution under countless millions of collective hours of study, have been able to duplicate the success of the men mentioned above. Not even with any of the great technological leaps. It still requires a great leader with vision way out ahead of everyone else to bring a film like Star Wars to being.

There is a reason some individuals are so good that all others around them fail in comparison, and often fail miserably. And Pirsig’s chart about quality is the place to start in defining what it is.

This is why schools fail, because schools teach institutionalism. In schools, there are dominate factions of groups that emerge, and they often collect in the back of the train where it’s socially safe. And anyone that dares to head to the front of the train, are ridiculed to no end. Because there is a fear among those in the back of the train that the individuals at the front might appear more important, because innately, it is understood that it is very possible that such a thing may occur. So peer pressure forces the leaders to the back of the train. Only the boldest of the bold stay in the front of the train, and can withstand the ridicule coming from the back by the masses of their peers.

I have sat across the table from mayors, state representatives both state and federal, powerful industry tycoons, party bosses, actors, stunt men, pro athletes, company heads, powerful drug cartel leaders, and in some cases worse and more powerful criminal elements, and in all those circumstances I have never met a man, or woman that I was so in awe over that I would cast celebrity worship in their direction which they fully expect. I have enjoyed the company of some of those people, but I’ve never considered them superior in any way to my thoughts, or strategies, and this is a recipe for disaster, because in deep investigation to the motives of individuals and their quests for power, are deep seated needs for honor given by title.

Titles are a very old, European idea, where they somehow elevate a man or woman to a position of respect. I have seen people that have clawed their way into positions of power, who get so lost in this infantile idea, that they can see nothing in front of their faces. The title they’ve acquired they fully expect to deem them respect because they worked hard to obtain it.

But, it’s in the value system of titles that many fail to understand the merit of the United States Constitution. In that brief moment where the truly brave, and truly intelligent gathered together in a small group of colonies in the late 1700’s, far from political influence, they rejected that structure because of the corrupt nature of man, mankind having a tendency to be corrupt, because of their love of titles.

On more than one occasion I have seen these men in high places reward those around them for displaying tendencies of weakness. When men show weakness, they show that they are willing to get in line for the fight for peeking order mentality. They will bide their time till they get to head a company, or a be a powerful politician. So weakness is encouraged in their subordinates.

More importantly, such weak personalities love to sit in the back of the train together where they can huddle against the exit door. The focus of their energy is in preparing to cast blame instead of solving problems. That’s why they sit so close to the exit, at the back of the train.

The bold ones, the ones at the front of the train will always be responsible for success, because it is their hands that guide the train down the correct track. But if they choose unwisely, they are the first to be blamed for taking the whole train down the wrong track.

Now the leaders in the back of the train call out commands, on which track to take. But because they are in the back, by the time the information gets to the front, the front of the train has already passed the point on the track where they could change course. This is not an accident. This is by design, because the leaders in the back are only concerned about the appearance of control. They don’t actually want to be in control. They would rather claim later that they assigned the people at the front to steer the train successfully. And if the people at the front steer onto the wrong track, then the leaders can claim that the visionaries did not follow their directions. It’s the old blame game, and it is the heart of everything that is wrong with the world.

Communism won’t save society because it requires leaders who will gather at the back of the train. Democracy certainly won’t, because the votes take place in the back of the train. Religion won’t work because it’s focus is on the next life, and not the one in front of us, a republic won’t unless there are strong individuals behind it willing to meet in the front of the train. No system of government will ever save society. People have to save themselves at the individual level, and if everyone does this, then society will reap the benefits and become saved.

I was raised a Christian, and learned very young that Jesus Christ was killed because he stirred up trouble at the Temple. What he was teaching was something the organized religions and local governors couldn’t control, and Jesus was a threat to that order. Now I don’t say that to mess up anybodies religious ideas. The motives of why Jesus sacrificed himself can still be debated and embraced. But at the heart of the social problem with the crucifixion of Jesus, he was a threat to political and religious power, and he had to go in order to maintain that order.

Another great revelation for me came after reading the book Forbidden Archeology The Hidden History of the Human Race. In that great book, years of undocumented archeology was reported stacked up in museums and universities because the research done at those universities were published in text books as facts, and would make that information obsolete with the new information. This is not a book of conspiracy, just a catalog of undocumented finds, undocumented because orthodox science does not understand how to document the finds. In this way, science becomes equal to religion and politics, where they hold to ideologies for the sole purpose of maintaining some level of control.

For instance, a university that does work on evolution and publishes those findings may advertise themselves as a leader in the field of science, and use that information to recruit new students. But if information comes out that makes the previous information obsolete, then that information would be dangerous to the university recruiting efforts.

So the university is less concerned about pushing the boundaries of understanding, then it is in growth as an institution, because the leaders are in the back of their train. There are of course parts of the university, scientist, teachers, etc, that are boldly in the front of the train, and the university loves to take credit for those personalities. But they will distance themselves quickly if something goes wrong, because the over-all goal is to maintain power.

I could literally go on and on for hundreds of thousands of pages with such examples. But the bottom line is that the very nature of quests for power prohibits making correct decisions in a timely manner, and all institutions are prone to fail because they are built by the architecture of psychological deficiencies.

So back to the overmanwarrior idea, an overman is a person wishing to creatively, and intellectually move beyond the planes of reality accepted by the current masses. They crave to, metaphorically speaking, be at the front of the train. And given the nature of power, it takes a special person to function without a desire for power. And it takes a warrior of sorts to combat those that will attack any threat to that power base. As shown, it takes a special type of person to be outstanding which should go without saying. But nobody will ever become outstanding, standing with the cowards in the back of the metaphorical train.

So an overmanwarrior is standing against the peer pressure of group institutionalism to uncover the truth of our past, and the fate of our future, while making firm decisions in the present. And they can do this because they are beyond the infintile yearning for power and control of others, because they are masters of themselves.

Rich Hoffman


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