Don’t build a fort, move down instead


We should not worry too much about what certain commentators have to say about the idea of ​​”lower pull”. The idea of ​​pulling down has become a saying that simultaneously accuses someone of being old-fashioned and isolating themselves. In our context, the saying is of course a reference to the Voortrekkers who drew their wagons in a circle during the Great Trek to ward off attacks.

Yet the idea of ​​lower pull is a very natural concept. It is indeed something that communities sometimes have to do to protect the things that are important to them, so that they can be developed and passed on to the next generation. This presupposes that we are not isolated, but rather work together as a community.

The negative association with the idea of ​​lower class is related to the ideological starting points prescribed by the modern world. Today is all about change. To change something is presented as good in principle. Almost every political campaign these days is run with the slogan: “Change!”. Leadership is increasingly measured by the extent to which the leader was able to change things. Children are also brought up with slogans such as: “Go change the world!”.

The problem with this kind of attitude is that it does not take into account the fact that there are certain things that should not be changed. Sometimes things do indeed need to be changed, but sometimes things need to be protected. If everything is simply about change, then the idea of ​​a lower is indeed something that should be eliminated. After all, the purpose of the layer is to protect something.

The idea of pull down relates to a theme that has been debated over the centuries in conversations about military strategy. This is the theme of build fort. I would argue that it is indeed dangerous to build forts and that the criticism of the idea of ​​lower draft applies much more to the idea of ​​fort building. This is because laying low and building a fort are different for important reasons. But let me explain…

Historical controversy

As long ago as the Peloponnesian war between Athens and Sparta (432 to 405 BC) the issue of fort building was already controversial. In fact, the theme of fort building during this war was covered in the great works of ancient historians such as Thucydides and Plutarch.

In his write-up of the history of the Peloponnesian war, Thucydides explains that there is a huge disadvantage in relying too much on forts. The person who shuts himself up in a fort runs the risk of isolating himself, while the enemy gets the opportunity to plunder the surrounding environment.

One of the sensational events in this war was the long walls that the Athenians built to protect their route to the sea. However, this left the countryside vulnerable, opening up new opportunities for the Spartans to weaken Athens. Plutarch agrees with this when he says that in this war the Spartans gained important experience on how to wage war against walled cities.

It boils down to the fact that it is generally not wise to attack a walled city “where an ordinary woman or child” can bring down the strongest warrior. In contrast, the Spartans learned that the Athenians could be isolated behind their strong walls, which counted in Sparta’s favor in the long run. In retrospect, the question can therefore be asked whether the Athenians’ attempt to defend themselves with large walls did not instead contribute to making them more vulnerable.

This theme has been addressed by great military thinkers such as Sun Tzu, Carl von Clausewits, Antoine-Henri de Jomini and countless others. The Renaissance diplomat Niccolò Machiavelli warns in his unique way that forts create a false sense of security while often leading to their builder handing over the initiative to his opponent. This applies not only to physical forts, but especially also to the proverbial forts that we like to build in our personal lives, at work and as a cultural community to protect ourselves.

Also in the War of Independence

In South Africa we also learned this lesson ourselves. In the run-up to the Second War of Independence, Paul Kruger instructed that four forts were to be built around Pretoria. These are the forts at Schanskop, Klapperkop, Wonderboompoort and Daspoortrand.

In practice, these forts were never used to defend Pretoria, precisely because the Boers realized that it would be better for them in the field where they could act more mobile and less predictable.

Draw lower, rather than build a fort

This brings us to the theme of lower pull. The underlying motive behind fort building is that there is something to be protected, and that it is worth spending time and resources on.

However, the problem with fort building is that it is fixed and permanent and leaves no room for mobility. In contrast, a layer is a mobile concept.

A warehouse may stand still, but it still has wheels. The starting point behind lower migration is precisely that it presupposes a community on its way to a specific goal, and that this community must sometimes fend off external threats. If the community had no anchor, and if there was nothing worthy of protection in the lower, the whole idea of ​​lower pull would be unnecessary.

However, the purpose of a layer is to respond to the circumstances of the time. When the battle is over, the camp can be dismantled again and the community can simply continue the journey to its destination. The camp further assumes that it is easy to send people out to fight outside the camp when necessary, but also to go outside the camp to build relationships and promote cooperation.

We must therefore understand that there is a strong ideological underpinning to the idea that lower pull is some kind of cramped principle. It assumes that it is wrong to protect the things that are important to us; that we must change for the sake of change. Downshifting has its drawbacks, but the wonder of downshifting – as opposed to fort building – is that the downshifter is able to protect what needs to be protected, but without losing his mobility.

This is all the more true for the kind of “bearings” we have to pull today. We don’t have to think of migration and travel as a linear process where you either migrate or move. In today’s time and struggle, we can continue the journey to our destination while sometimes also having to draw lower to protect what is worth protecting.