You must’ve read this quote in some form if you’ve spent enough time on right wing twitter and met the discount BAP clones who promote their own form of ‘barbarism’. Though, a bunch of jacked dudes walking around shirtless isn’t necessarily barbarism as much as it is being a rebellious deviant (but you can owe that to mister Bronze Age Pervert).
Regardless, the subject of discussion today is on the Conan the Barbarian books (or Conan of Cimmeria, as he’s actually known) by the late Robert E. Howard. Almost everyone has seen the Arnold movie and as based as it was, the films pale in comparison to the books. While they aren’t written in a ‘high-literature’ way that other books on our side of twitter are, Howard tends to a fantastic job with painting the surroundings and describing Conan’s every thought, whim and mindset to the reader in a way so detailed that it almost feels like you’re playing a modded minecraft game looking for the next creeper to brutally murder, and by creeper I mean some shitskin. Howard really didn’t like non-whites, evidenced by Conan’s enemies usually being depicted as a mix of Turkic muslim warriors, Arab or Jewish pirates and ancient Egyptian eldritch wizards that keep trying to take over the post-apocalyptic world. Yes, there’s probably some ‘We Wuz’ joke there, but that ain’t important right now. Hell, one time Conan beat the living shit out of a H.P. Lovecraft deity in a fist fight.
The stories weren’t produced in chronological order, but other authors have compiled the books into roughly what they consider the ‘official’ Conan timeline (I’m not sponsored by anyone, by the way. But I’ll put links at the bottom for which books to buy or steal if you’re interested). The books always start off with Conan walking through some foreign exotic lands on an adventure to steal, rob or just explore. Generally, there’s always an exotic beauty for him to seduce while defeating the latest enemy or enemies. While the plotlines aren’t exactly original, they are certainly fun to read and fill you with a sense of excitement and it almost feels like reading it gives you a surge of testosterone to exert your will upon the world.
Arguably, Conan of Cimmeria is one of the most ‘alpha’ protagonists to be written. I don’t mean ‘alpha’ based on some conventional societal norms of any kind, but rather a primal aspect. He’s a six-foot-five walking tank of muscle that also happens to be incredibly cunning, always exerting his will upon everyone he comes through. Every battle with some twink wizard who knows forbidden arts always ends with Conan beating the living shit out of it until he’s dead or worse. The bitches can’t help but resist Conan either, they always end up falling for him on the spot, and any woman with malicious intent either gets thot-patrolled by him or just dies by his hand inadvertently.
I’m digressing though, what I want to discuss is the philosophy of Conan and how it parallels Nietzsche’s overman. The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic period of Earth known as the ‘Hyborian age’. It takes place after the destruction of Atlantis (Conan also descends from Atlanteans, but that’s not important) due to a geological cataclysm where a large number of races move to different continents around the world and differentiate from each other over thousands of years. Howard has an intense love for history, hence he invented a timeless setting that’s roughly non-existent, using names and cultures similar to our own such as the ‘turanids’ of Central Asia or the ‘Cimmerians’, mind you though, the Cimmerians in Hyborian Age are proto-celts and come from a region that’s roughly between Scotland and England. Howard was an American of mixed Irish and Scottish descent and he describes Conan as a big, olive-skinned man with dark, beady eyes compared to the proto-Aryans known as the Hyborians, who bare an uncanny resemblance to the Iranic pastoral tribes that shaped the Indo-European world as we know it today.
Conan grew up, learned to fight and was exceptional at what he did. He travels from land to land, getting in all sorts of danger. Cimmerians grew up having to deal with the aboriginal celts known as Picts as well as avoiding invasions from the Hyboran peoples, who had already established numerous empires across the world at this point. In fact, the ‘Aesir’ were actually snow monkeys who evolved in a short period of time into men. I’m not joking here, Nordics are literally snowniggers in the setting.
While every other culture tended to vehemently worship their Gods, with the Hyborians worshipping the Sun God ‘Mithra’, who is obviously labelled as the Iranic warrior god Mithras, you also have the Vendhyans who worship Ashura, the Gypsy Zamorans, the Stygian Egyptians who worship eldritch Gods and so on, you can probably see where the etymology comes from and Howard’s rough approximation for most cultures. Despite his dislike for a large amount of non-white cultures, you can tell Howard did his reading to an extent.
The Cimmerian God, Crom – Cimmeria’s #1 redditor
Unlike other Gods, the Cimmerian God, named Crom, is a bigger cunt than Shiva. He’s as moody as the Cimmerian people. Crom hates prayers, seeing it as a form of weakness and responds by cursing his devotees. Hence, the Cimmerian people have a very deistic approach towards religion, believing that Crom leaves them alone and they leave him alone.
The only time Conan ever refers to his God in the books is where he says ‘By Crom!’ as an expression of shock or anger, see it as a placeholder to ‘holy shit’ or ‘Oh my God’.
Taking that into account, you can see the Nietzschian parallels with Conan. Howard loved Existentialism, depicting Conan as a free agent that refused to assimilate into any society or belief, preferring to ‘ride the tiger’ of sorts. Despite the Deistic beliefs and lack of holy presence in the world, Conan does acknowledge the possibility of other Gods but refuses to believe in them, fearing Crom’s jealous wrath like an ex-girlfriend that never leaves you alone. Cimmerians are also known for their superstition even compared to other races, they are very paranoid of magic and forces that aren’t conventional earthly forces as we know them. Conan exemplifies this, as he tends to go into a rage when encountering every sorcerer he comes across.
But that works well for Conan. Despite his grug-like physical appearance, the Cimmerian is very intelligent and cunning, perhaps not in academic sense, but countless times he’s able to formulate strategy and overcome the worst of odds with his instincts. If he feels something is dodgy, he gets out of there ASAP or he beats it up. Nine out of ten times, it works.
Conan’s noble savagery
Conan is probably the face of the ‘noble savage’ trope. He is proud of his barbarian heritage and Howard repeatedly makes sure to convey that message to the reader. Almost every encounter with civilization has Conan encounter problems and contrasts the life of the civilized man and how excess civilization makes us weak and pathetic compared to the wild man who spends his days hunting and fighting. A simpler life, but simple makes us strong.
Ever heard the phrase ‘Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.’? This is one of the most recurring themes in Conan. Howard states that Human life is a stage of four cycles.
Stage one is savagery, think of cavemen who are barely able to speak, only caring of raping, eating and sleeping. They have no honour or greater martial values beside this.
Stage two is barbarism, this is Conan. Barbarism is essentially a higher form of savagery. These men are toughened up by living in the wild, yet have formed their own sort of society. They are loyal to their own and live life based on their own code, it may be alien to civilized and savage folk, but they are noble in their own way. The books are consistent with this, if you’re a friend to Conan, he’ll drop everything to save your ass even if you’re about to fist fight a Dragon. If you’re an enemy, not even your God can save you from his wrath. A real life example would probably be Romulus and Remus.
Stage three is civilization, this can range from a simple village to late stage cities and countries. You reap the benefits of civilization, a consistent food source, a safer form of life and what-not. However, corruption begins to spread and slowly but surely, the once noble warrior-aristocrats will plunge in degeneracy. Money-lenders and the sin of materialism kicks in and everything starts crumbling. A real example would be the late-stage Roman republic and early Roman empire.
Stage four is collapse. Every empire must fall, eventually. The corruption, you lose the loyalty of the people, the aristocrats and nobles have become nothing but parasites that leech off a dying corpse of an ideal. The country is run by capital, and capital alone. Your soldiers become nothing but glorified mercenaries that wear the nation’s coat-of-arms as a LARP to pretend they had the glory of something that was once great, but now fallen. Eventually, this gets destroyed either by immolation, invasion or just fragments. Late stage Roman Empire and Byzantines. Almost always, Barbarians invade.
After stage four, depending on how many good men are left, a group of people will either revert to stage one or two. But this is the interesting thing about Barbarism, it’s the most consistent and stable form of man from Howard’s perspective.
“Barbarianism is the natural state of mankind. Civilization is unnatural. It is the whim of circumstance. And barbarianism must ultimately triumph”
― Robert E. Howard
Howard argues that men are naturally inclined to gravitate towards Barbarism. It weeds out the weak and allows the strong to thrive. After all, only the strongest will survive. He also argues that the weakness of civilization is far, far too apparent. In a way, the Conan books are a historical commentary, cementing Howard’s beliefs that men can live in a perpetual stage of barbarism, as tribal outsiders that live by their own code of honour.
Conan is described as the paragon of strength due to his wild upbringing. He values the primal martial values – Strength, honour, courage and mastery. He refuses to submit to anything, no matter how enticing the idea of civilization is. He does become a king and strongarm a kingdom by his own hand, completely destroying the ideal of ‘royal blood’ to the corrupt aristocrats of his newly acquired kingdom, but that’s a story for another day.
Alongside this, Howard also exemplifies how long-term life in civilization can make men not devoid of physical strength, but mental strength. In one book, Conan rummages around the remnants of a lost city where the people are in a perpetual state of eating and fucking, being ruled by corrupt female priests who worship a small-time H.P. Lovecraft Deity (Howard and Lovecraft were best buds and many scholars, authors and fans consider the Conan universe and the Lovecraft universe are intertwined ). After a priestess attempts to use the eldritch deity to mindfuck Conan’s female companion and take Conan as her husbando, the discount-shoggoth goes into a rage because his mind magic doesn’t work on the barbarian.
Why? Because Conan’s mind is too strong. Or rather, civilized people’s brains are too wired and stressed on the most materialistic, useless ideals and thoughts that makes their mind far weaker and susceptible to being controlled like sheep. The people in the city are akin to a fucked up version of Nietzsche’s last man. The people have lost their ability to dream (quite literally, seeing as the shoggoth has started eating their dreams and life force while they sleep) and have fallen to decadence.
Meanwhile, Conan’s antithetical nature somehow manages to balance stoicism while still projecting his vitality and love for the world and living in it. His mind is far too organized, oriented and ordered for the shoggoth to brainwash him, for his superstition and instincts tell him to overcome this and beat the living fuck out of it. He does win, though, he drags that fucker harder than Khabib dragged Connor.
To conclude with this one, there is a lot I haven’t touched over with the Conan stories because there’s way too much to go over. Regardless, now that I’ve hopefully conveyed the ideals onto you, there’s a final piece on how you can make this relevant in your life.
There is a trilogy of books by an author known as Jack Donovan – He’s a homosexual pagan, so take what you will from that, but what he writes is true and has a lot of value in it. Don’t dismiss a source just because you disagree with the author. The series starts off with a book called ‘The Way Of Men’, the sequel is called ‘Becoming A Barbarian’ and the third installment is ‘A More Complete Beast’.
The books offer a secular answer towards what is masculinity. The values entail the same values Conan follows – Strength, Honour, Courage and Mastery. Donovan states that the world we live in is an ‘empire of nothing’. That we live in something less of a culture and more of a conglomerate of businesses and institutions that go out of their way to destroy any form of identity to help us ‘progress’. Now, there’s tons of theories on why, how and what they’re doing and the end-game of whatever shadow-ruler high up wants to do, but most people can only LARP at how they’re going to resist.
But there are ways to fight against the empire of nothing. First, you have to remember that this ‘empire’ is nothing but a late-stage ever-encompassing civilization. Sure, but people thought the same of Rome for the longest of times too. Last I recall, Rome fell (2).
The way of men, true men like Conan, even if he is a fictional character, is by the way of the tribe, the way of a gang. To be a barbarian and live for your own ideals and beliefs regardless of what everyone around you is doing. As generic and overdone as this sounds, it’s a form of ‘riding the tiger’, as Evola states.
While we never know when or what’ll break this empire, we know that eventually it will collapse. The best thing to do for now is live for your own ideals, don’t aspire to LARP or completely copy something else, that’s a sign of a corporation or some cult leader trying to turn you into their minion for their own game. Sure, there are exceptions, but why submit when you can be your own master instead?
The key to becoming more like Conan is getting strong, mastering skills, having a set of rules/honour or a code and being ready to do shit if the time calls for it (courage). But that’s not all, the most important virtue is having a gang/tribe.
Even though Conan was the lone wanderer most of the time, he’s always had a gang, crew or was even a hetman of cossacks at one time. His tribe supported him and he supported them back. None of us are Conan however, he’s a fictional idealization from a bygone age. The best thing to do is build a ‘mannerbund’ of sorts and form strong bonds with your brothers, working together to achieve a common goal. You can use religion, mutual interest, ethnicity or nationalism to bring you together, that doesn’t matter – History has shown that regardless of what unites people, if they’re united, they become far stronger. Man is a social creature, he needs the company of others to thrive.
Even in the late stage decaying Rome, Barbarian tribes lived in Roman territory and formed gangs of sorts to live by their own methods. They thrived despite all odds and ended up winning. In a way, the fall of Rome was a massive victory to all barbarian tribes. In some cases, from a moral perspective, the Barbarians were better than their supposed ‘civilized’ opponents.
In fact, if you’ve ever read Tacitus’s book on Germania, you’d know that the Germanic barbarians were described as favourable to the author. Romans were known for their romanticism and portrayed their enemies in a very negative light and jerked themselves off very hard. So for a Roman author to praise them is a very big thing.
Tacitus described the Germanics as strong, egalitarian and well-knit with tight brother-bonds; their women were also considered well-behaved and non-roasties. They tended to support strict monogamy and were not very promiscuous – The strong enforced honour codes and morality were partially why they were able to stay united and consistent despite constant attacks by Roman legions and overcoming defeat-after-defeat (3).
To contrast this, a lot of scholars suggest part of why the late Roman empire fell was due to the decay in moral and intrinsic values that the ancient Romans believed – The undying loyalty, discipline and strength of the Roman legions is still known throughout the world, being able to decimate even the strongest of foes. The fall in those values, the disorder of late Rome and perhaps the fall in the family unit could’ve all contributed en masse to it’s fall (4). Alternatively, it could just be that the empire got too big. The bigger it is, the harder to manage and control, which is why it slowly began to crumble – You could say the same for America right now.
To add, the Ikhwan Al-Safa (Brethren of Purity) were a group of wealthy, educated nobles who attempted to combine Islam with Neo-platonism and other elements. Essentially an ultra heretical but interesting sect of beliefs. They were in Basra, southern Iraq before Iraq fell to the Mongols and believed in similar concepts of a form of ‘brotherhoods’ or tribe, in order to create self-sufficient, semi-autonomous groups of men that unite collectively to form a Caliphate/Imamate (5).
You could argue the same thing for the early success of Islam, the strongly-knit Bedouin barbarian tribes were quite good at fighting and even pre-Islam were Byzantine vassals, more commonly known as the Ghassanids (6). A lot of their strength was similar to Conan’s, being men who grew up in the wild, arid desert and formed strong bonds with their tribes. There is a recurring theme with the unrivalled strength of tribal warriors that takes insane odds to defeat.
“The brother with money but no knowledge should help the penniless scholar who in turn should be equally generous with his knowledge.” (5)
You can apply this to the mannerbund and show how men of different background’s strengths and weaknesses can support each other to overcome almost anything. Not just for money or knowledge, but training, life and general advice. Self-governing, self-sufficient brotherhoods are probably the best thing to build in this decaying world.
Finally, I want to get to the last part – Conan’s mindset. While some of you reading are religious and disagree with Conan’s deism, you’ve got to take into account that Conan makes his own luck. He believes in his blade, in his body and his mind. You can do the same for your own mindset, how you do that is up to you, but a strong mindset and discipline is one of the most powerful tools in a world where most zoomers are becoming drugged-up husks with no will to live.
Perhaps a return to barbarism is what the world needs. Sure, we’ll lose plenty of lives, but maybe if you’ve got the broskis, it’s still gonna be a fun ride.
If you’re looking to read the Conan books, go for this or something along the lines of “Conan the Barbarian, the complete collection.” You can grab this off amazon.
Or, you can use alternative sites (libgen).
A thread by my friend Fatjon on the Ikhwan Al Safa, if you’re more interested and want to learn about their theology and beliefs:
- Louinet, Patrice (2002), “Hyborian Genesis Part I”, The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, Del Rey Books, ISBN 0-345-46151-7
- Donovan J. A more complete beast.
- Germania by Tacitus | The Writings of Tacitus at UNRV.com [Internet]. Unrv.com. 2020 [cited 28 July 2020]. Available from: https://www.unrv.com/tacitus/tacitusgermania.php
- Did moral decay destroy the ancient world? [Internet]. Roger Pearse. 2020 [cited 28 July 2020]. Available from: https://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog/2014/01/17/did-moral-decay-destroy-the-ancient-world/
- Sufi trails in Palestine – Deir GassanehOttoman Rule in the Hills of Rural Palestine [Internet]. Sufitrails.ps. 2020 [cited 28 July 2020]. Available from: http://www.sufitrails.ps/etemplate.php?id=36