[Most Recent Entries]
Below are the 9 most recent journal entries recorded in
|Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011|
|The Last Revolution in America
The current events in Wisconsin look like the start of the revolution. A lower tier of the ruling class - the government employee unions, are being sacrificed, with the full support of the population. Of course, the ultimate result will be the same as always: the increased power of elites, with some important changes in the membership of that elite. And the elite will be smaller.
Republicans and Democrats are two faces of the same elitary coin. Since 1968 the roles of both sides have reversed, however. It is Left which is reactionary and elitist (although it uses various stratagems and mental constructs to deny it) and Right which is progressive, utopian and at least rhetorically populist (but, of course, in essence still elitary). ( Read more...Collapse )
|Saturday, January 2nd, 2010|
|Basic principles of organisation
Basic principles of organisation
Each society must solve a basic problem: how to coordinate actions by individual men in order to produce good. What is good is of course also arguable; you can also argue whether there can be common good, or only individual, what is the nature of society, etc.
Here I will consider only the ways in which the society – that is, in practice, usually the state - can organize itself to gain its goals.
( Read moreCollapse )
|Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009|
|Future of the Middle East
I have read On Strategy Page an essay by Rory Walkinshaw about the future of Israel. It is rather optimistic:
"Who Won The 60 Year War?
April 17, 2009: It's a well-known fact that more and more Arab nations are
losing their enthusiasm for making war on Israel and are adopting an air of
either ambivalence, or normal diplomatic relations, with the Jewish state. What
is less apparent, largely because of the latest round of fighting in the Gaza
Strip and the rhetoric coming from Iran, is how far the Israelis have come in 60
years, with their nation becoming progressively safer and more secure with each
Unfortunately, this managed to overlook all important factors which will determine the future of the Middle East.( Read more...Collapse )
|Wednesday, October 29th, 2008|
|Why every American patriot should vote for Obama
First of all: why I think that McCain winning will be a bad thing for Republicans?
Because the coming economic crisis, together with media hostility, will destroy the popularity of the party for a long time. Think about Republicans after Hoover. Of course, the coming crisis won't be comparable, but on the other hand the expectations of people have grown.
And why the crisis is unavoidable? Because in America the real economic activity have become unfashionable, and even actively obstructed by the government, and the profits were delivered instead by various financial Ponzi schemes. Even if the skillful operations of the government save the financial industry, merely the return to the necessary level of saving will ensure a rather serious recession.http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/
Of course, "saving of the financial industry" will be accompanied by a tremendous amount of fraud. According to the principle that Republicans are not allowed to steal, it will blacken the name of the President presiding over it.http://www.scoopit.co.nz/story.php?title=Wachovias_Swan_Song_---1http://bankimplode.com/blog/2008/10/23/swan-song/
" just how much will it save? The Wall Street Journal, citing an independent tax analyst, estimates Wells Fargo could reap a tax savings of about $19.4 billion. To put that in perspective, the 0.1991 shares of its own stock Wells Fargo is offering Wachovia comes out to around $6.24 per share, or roughly $13.8 billion. Yes, Wells Fargo gets a $19.4 billion tax break for a company it’ll pay just under $14 billion for (if the deal closed today).
In other words, Wells Fargo didn’t pay anything for Wachovia: The IRS paid it more than $5 billion to take it. Who ever said you have to fear the taxman?
Well former treasury Undersecretary Robert Steel certainly has nothing to fear."
Why vote for Obama:
It was clear that American progressives were going to gain control over America and try to build their "perfect society". I personally didn't expect that to happen for at least 20 years. And with each passing year their influence, and the extent to which their ideas could be implemented, will grow.
Now Obama is clearly much too early. Moreover, he starts his rule at the beginning of a deep depression. This has two very beneficial aspects:
- it strongly limits his power to actually change society - it inflames his supporters, who will demand and get many changes in the economy.
As the result, instead of concentrating on the consolidation of his regime and social changes, Obama will reform the economy, lengthening and deepening the crisis. (He will also build international economic institutions which will be very useful in the further development of the Empire.)
During the first year of his rule we will see whether he will be reelected. I am virtually certain (and hope) that he will be - his program of changes in labour unions and financing community organisations shows that he will concentrate on basics. He will also undoubtly financially attack Republican-leaning media in order to create a virtual media monopoly.
Obama, and especially his supporters, are ideologues. They demand full support from the financial class, and will get it. There will be certainly a "Republicans for Obama" movement, but it will be so transparent that they will have no chance to remain in the Republican party.
Republican party will benefit from the final compromising of the free market absolutism. It will become clear for everyone (I mean, for every voter; true believers will continue to rant) that the "perfectly efficient market" is a beautiful idea somewhat similar to the "Communism" which the Communist Parties were building in USSR and vassal states for 50 years ("We are getting closer to the Communism with every day!"). Both would ensure perfect happines of humanity for ever - and both can never be realized on this imperfect Earth.
In addition, the total reshaping of the global financial and monetary system by Obama will undoubtly include features ensuring that only pro-Obama financial firms will survive. This will clear the Republican party of all representatives of Wall Street. The Democrats will become the undisputed party of Optimates - Sandlers, Soros etc will have many new colleagues.
Why I expect the Progressives (represented in the USA by Democrats) to finally lose?
Because they are fighting against reality. Their utopian demands require overthrowing the reality as such to realize. Of course, it is - in the long term - impossible. Reality reasserts itself, and utopians are destroyed.
The Progressives are both more intelligent and more ambitious than Marxists. They don't want to reconstruct economy, but the society as such. As social processes move much slower than the economic ones, the results will be inevitably delayed. That does not mean they will be any less painful - to the contrary.
They, contrary to the Marxists, who never managed to win a revolution in any Western country, prefer the salami tactics, never announcing their ultimate aims. In fact, I don't think that many of the "foot-workers" in the progress knows or would accept the ultimate aims - but they are the inevitable logical result of the changes. If you said A, you must say B.
"Right wing", conservative parties etc are wholly useless as opponents of the Progress. The only thing they can do is to slow it down. In fact, most of the conservatists are at heart as much Progressives as the left wing. They simply prefer the earlier stage of progress (Democracy Yes, vote for women Yes, divorce Yes, antiracism -Yes!!!, abortion- here the problems begin, women in the army???-another question, please; gay marriage - No! or perhaps?). They certainly don't wish to get rid of the Progress or even stop it altogether. See McCain and the Amnesty:http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2007/1/25/131758.shtml
The strategy of slowing down can work - it worked in the case of communism, which imploded and was discarded before the Progressives managed to implement it in the West. But as I said, Marxists were rather unsubtle and announced their aims openly - which dismayed most of the electorate.
So, the current agenda of progress (which includes, but isn't limited to: radical ecology, antimilitarism, radical reshaping of the family, attempts to eliminate differences between sexes and differences in IQ between populations) must earlier or later come crashing down. The later this happens the greater will be the losses - and more radical the backlash.http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/http://zahell.blogspot.com/
The factors facilitiating the end of the Progres are the insanity of the Progressive aims, their devastating results and the fact that they tend to create revulsion in an unpreprared common man.
The factors benefitting the further progress are the fact that their aims are the logical development of the most glorious achievements of the West (eg good treatment of women is developed into feminism, and so on) and that they allow the intellectuals the necessary feeling of superiority over the hoi-polloi. Finally, as I said, the negative results of Progress emerge very slowly, so the people have ample time to become accustomed to them.
As the result of those factors I think that the Progress is far from ended. I guess that the natural beginning of the end of progress will not happen for the next 20-30 years. There is however one possibility which would stop or at least seriously slow it down, and allow America to weather it with relatively minor damages: If the Progressives will try to speed up the Progress too much, their aims will cause revulsion in unprepared electorate, and the downsides will become evident before the people will accustom themselves to them.
If Obama manages to win, he has a chance, as I said earlier, to recreate the Chicago machine on the national level- the coordination of financial industry, media and federal law enforcement. This can allow him to overwhelm the Republicans and gain for some time undisputed control over USA. In such a situation his radical backers would demand far-reaching reforms.
In addition, the economic policies which we can expect him to introduce - increasing taxes, increasing money supply, attempts at restarting the financial Ponzi system - will change the recession into a depression. The economic results of various social reforms, like benefits for Blacks, increasing Progressivism in education and the like, or the half-baked attempts to create a national health system, probably on the English or Canadian single payer model, certainly won't help.http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/2008104428/how-universal-health-care-changes-everything
Here is a good example of that way of thinking - a reform of health care as a means to gaining perpetual majority. An effective universal health care system is necessary, but any system designed with such a political goal in mind will be a morass. And Democrats will be bogged down in it for a long time.
Such a mixture of depression and political gangsterism would be remembered by the American electorate for a long time. This would be pretty efficacious in keeping the more radical progressive schemes from being attempted in reality
|Sunday, March 30th, 2008|
|Children of Hurin
I think the most interesting part of that tale is Turin himself.
Here is an interesting take on his character:
"Beyond any doubt Túrin is the protagonist of Children, and the hero of the tale if it has one. He has the interesting trait, common enough among ‘men of honour’ in primitive cultures and still more in their mythological traditions, of having the strictest scruples without any actual morals. He is stubborn, stiff-necked, wilful, impulsive, violently touchy, immune to good advice, and prone to murderous rages against his closest friends; I can barely resist adding, ‘And those are his good points.’
I am not sure that I agree entirely with this opinion. Turin is certainly a hero; but he is much more complicated that the stereotypical mythic hero; his story is taken from Kullervo's story, but he has nearly nothing in common with him as a character.
I think that the good beginning would be to consider whether Turin has strong or weak will. He certainly is ridiculously brave; he is able to take command of the most improbable groups of people, from a band of outlaw to an elven kingdom. It would seem that his will is impossibly strong. But, when we consider his command over his own life, we can begin to wonder whether he has any will at all. Let us consider his kinsmen, Tuor and Earendil; both knew what they wanted, did everything to reach it, and succeeded. His father, Hurin the Steadfast, possessed an unbreakable will. Released by Morgoth he wanted only one thing - to punish everyone who failed his son. He, old, broken, alone, wanted to destroy two still powerful kingdom - and did this. Not one of those who failed Turin survived.
What did Turin want? What was his aim, his goal? Perhaps to regain his father's kingdom in Dor-lomin? But he did nothing in this direction. He was ruled entirely by circumstances.
When we consider the morality of his behaviour, we see something similar. Sometimes it seems that he is amoral, in other moments - that he is ruled entirely by morality. The answer is simple - he as a child has been taught certain rules of behaviour, and they rule him even more than his passions. He does not consider or debate them; there is no man less given to introspection than him. He simply follows them.
His most powerful instinct is the need to defend women. At times it seems even morbid. When Saeros provoked him, he had been thinking for a long time about the fate of his mother and sister, and his inability to help them. We are not told what his "dark thoughts" were exactly, but his explosion, when Saeros said: "'If the Men of Hithlum are so wild and fell, of what sort are the women of that land? Do they run like the deer clad only in their hair?', suggest that they must have tended in that direction.
Turin seems nearly unable to love; his tendency to defend women seems nearly to have taken the place of the love. When Finduilas tells Gwindor that Turin doesn't love her, she adds:
'But also he is merciful,' said Finduilas. 'He is not yet awake, but still pity can ever pierce his heart, and he will never deny it. Pity maybe shall be ever the only entry. But he does not pity me. He holds me in awe, as were I both his mother and a queen.'
Maybe Finduilas spoke truly, seeing with the keen eyes of the Eldar. And now Túrin, not knowing what had passed between Gwindor and Finduilas, was ever gentler towards her as she seemed more sad. "Another reason why his instinct to defend women seems so impersonal is that for Turin nearly all people are simply figures upon the stage of his mind; they appear and dissappear; he reacts to them as long as he sees them; but then they are put away and replaced by new ones; and he forgets them. The only people he treated as people, that is as independent actors with life separate from him were, I think, his family, Beleg and Niniel.
"Coming suddenly out of thought he looked at Beleg, and said: 'The elf-maiden that you named, though I forget how: I owe her well for her timely witness; yet I cannot recall her. Why did she watch my ways?' Then Beleg looked strangely at him. 'Why indeed?' he said. 'Túrin, have you lived always with your heart and half your mind far away? As a boy you used to walk with Nellas in the woods.'
'That must have been long ago,' said Túrin. 'Or so my childhood now seems, and a mist is over it - save only the memory of my father's house in Dor-lómin. Why would I walk with an elf-maiden?'
'To learn what she could teach, maybe,' said Beleg, 'if no more than a few elven-words of the names of woodland flowers. Their names at least you have not forgotten".
If Proust wrote "Remembrance of Things Past" Turin could call his memoirs (which he wouldn't, of course, write) "Forgetting of Things Past - With pleasure". He does not remember his childhood, and he does not regret it.
Turin was perhaps the only man behaving according to the Behaviourism of Skinner. A stimulus causes response, there is no internal debate, no decision, no will. Glaurung is able to play on him like on an piano; he always strikes the correct keys and Turin dances to his melody.
Turin was a man who should have been married to a wise woman; he was unable to think for himself. He was not stupid; he simply refused to think and relied on his instincts. He would never really obey any man, since one of his instincts was to take command over men. But he needed someone to command him. I think even the girl he saved from Forweg could do what she wanted with him - if she knew how to push the correct buttons. But the first woman who pushed them was Niniel - she certainly knew how to influence Turin.
What did Turin think of himself? That is easy to guess; he thought himself the best of men and greatest of heroes. He couldn't bear a thought that he was something else; when he killed Beleg he went mad; when he learned about Niniel he killed himself.
If so, why is Turin a hero, and not one nonenitity among many? Because his gifts and talents were greatest of all heroes of Silmarillion, greater, I think than even Feanor's, and his instincts were, after all, right - even if he lacked prudence in following them. And he was certainly not afraid to do the right thing.
You can consider Turin improbable; but he is all to real. Certainly, he isn't a good captain - that is why he loses. But the fact that people follow his is quite probable - he is certain of himself; he has no doubts. They are in a desperate situation and he is the only one with a solution, even if a mindless one.
Compare him with Hitler - an aimless drifter, lacking a will even to find a work and get a life, who didn't get a job as a theatre set designer because he was afraid to go to interview - but who was able to capture a whole state and lead it into disaster, with no one to oppose him. If it was a book you would certainly call it improbable.
Obviously Turin is incomparably more gifted than Hitler. He is actually quite a good captain in short term, able to set an objective and follow it. He is certainly intelligent, brave and decisive.
But he lacks some higher element, which would allow him to use his gifts towards some aim. This is why it is a tragedy; we see talents misused, life wasted.
Aristotle - Poetics
Turin is certainly in many aspects a modern man; Musil's "Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften". But he apparently was born in XIX century. His instincts are all about honor, glory, duty etc, in the world in which they have little place. And he is unable to reach deeper, to the sources of those things he holds dear. He is remarkable for one other thing - he does not care for Valar, and even less for Eru. He intends to win or lose by his own remarkable strength. Earendil or Tuor can go on in the face of defeat, because they see a hope beyond the world. Turin cannot.
"Children of Hurin" can be said to be a story about rape. The most iconic image is a naked woman running through the woods. This reminds of a story about Nastagio degli Onesti from Boccaccio's Decameron, which has been beautifully illustrated by Botticelli.
|Thursday, May 10th, 2007|
Postmodernism is a religion - a very old, but utterly undogmatic one.
It is simply a modern version of Gnosis.
(For those more familiar with Islam - it is rather like the religion of the Assassins, especially the Resurrection of Hasan in 1164http://www.acampbell.ukfsn.org/assassins/assassins-html/resurrection.html
This is not widely known for a few reasons:
1. Postmodernists, or more precisely deconstructionists, try by design to be as difficult to understand as possible. Optimally, they are meaningless. This is a way to destroy the language - one of the main sources of repression. Language is stabilizing the evil consensual reality. By destroying the language, we can destroy it, or at least weaken it.
2. One of the most important theses is that there is no difference between truth and lie. Both, in fact, use language, and therefore strengthen the consenual reality. If it there is no truth, there is nothing wrong with lying. And, in fact, deconstructionist lie very often. Eg most of them opposes Heidegger, although he invented their whole theory - they simply invent some meaningless differences.
3. Por those reasons, it is very difficult to understand the esoteric meaning of deconstruction. But it is not necessary. You can have a lucrative career in humanities by piously repeating exoteric half-truths, learned by rote, without knowledge that they are actually meaningless (although furthering the noble cause of deconstruction).
4. In their crusade to destroy the consenual reality, that is the world as we know it, their first enemy is the Western civilisation. Accordingly, they will make tactical alliances with any enemy of the West. Heidegger was a Nazi, Kojeve was a Soviet agent. Now, Chomsky supports Islam.
5. I would guess that to more martially inclined groups, eg Muslims, our deconstructionists seem weak fools, doing yeoman work in weakening the West, and that they can be easily destroyed themselves afterwards. Perhaps it is really so - but I wouldn't be so sure. They have created remarkably efficient propaganda machine and inculcated into the people a remarkable mental flexiblity. Should they happen to take over the rule, they won't feel themselves to be bound by the things they proclaim now. When Hitler attacked Russia, communists made a very quick and thorough change from pacifism to anti-nazism. Now such change can be much more thorough and can easily reach most of the population.
6. Those more interested in religious history will decry that Derrida writes nothing about Jaldabaoth and Sophia. But the essence of Gnosis does not lie in names and mythologies - each important Gnostic invented his own, to show their ultimate meaninglessness. Gnosis does not mean learned knowledge. It is not episteme. It is an experienced knowledge.
It lies in the discovery of inversion. What was good is evil, and the real good is Other, Outside. That is the real point. Each ancient religion has its gnostic reflection, Christianity, Neoplatonism, Zoroastrianism, Islam, even Taoism. Perhaps now we are nearer true Gnosis than in time of the old gnostics, who were too bound with language to attain true meaninglessness.
For similarities between Gnosis and Heidegger see Hans Jonas "Religion of Gnosis." I will only note that the connection between such mental categories as "Geworfenheit" and past (that is past time), Verfalleheit and present is very Gnostic.
|Tuesday, April 17th, 2007|
We have passed the Modernism. Modernism taught that the Man is infinitely perfectible, that the world is shaped by reason, and that all problems are caused by the prejudices, obscuring the light of Reason. Sapere aude! Dare to think! And all will be good. Let the Reason rule, and it will shape the world to be perfect. As Kant teaches, the world of appearances is created by Reason, and therefore what we think is right. We don't need traditions and revelations - in fact, they are the problems, they obscure the pure light of Reason.
But by now the pure light of Reason has grown rather dim. The new ruling theory is that the world of appearances is not created by pure and good Reason, but by oppression (whose? bad dead European males? perhaps rather Demiurgos?). It is a half-baked and timid Gnosticism. We are taught to worship "The Other", but it is very difficult to learn who or what is that "Other". We can learn that forces of science are function of feelings, and that past is Geworfenheit, our being thrown into the world. But no one dares quite say that it is Jaldabaoth who created the world from rejected feelings and who has thrown stolen parts of the One into it.
Heidegger attempted to destroy language, and had quite notable successes. Now the time have come to move from the field of philosophy and use that victory to destroy the morality, that evil chain with which Jaldabaoth and his Archons managed to bind us.
But, perhaps I don't look deep enough. The essence of Gnosis does not lie in names and mythologies - each Gnostic invented his own, to show their ultimate meaninglessness. Gnosis does not mean learned knowledge. It is not pistis. It is an experienced knowledge.
It lies in the discovery of inversion. What was good is evil, and the real good is Other, Outside. That is the real point. Each ancient religion has its gnostic reflection, Christianity, Neoplatonism, Zoroastrianism, even Taoism. Perhaps now we are nearer true Gnosis than in time of the old gnostics, who were too bound with language to attain true meaninglessness.
For similarities between Gnosis and Heidegger see Hans Jonas Religion of Gnosis.
Now we see the gnostic reflection and inversion of the religion of Reason. It was rather sorry religion from the beginning, and now the inversion is nearly perfect.
There is another important element of Gnosis - the humanity is divided between Perfects and the rest, between Pneumatics, Psychics and the bestial Somatics. This is, to a degree, common point with Modernity, which divided men into Enlightened and Benighted. Benighted were to be Enlightened - whether they like it or not.
According to Gnosis, Psychics could be enlightened. Somatics, the majority, were simly naked apes, and for them there was no hope.
|Saturday, March 17th, 2007|
|Complexity and ethics
You must have some axioms to begin with. If you don't believe that striving for happines, survival or productivity are good (not necessarily highest good, but good) - then no one can help you at all.
Many people think that the moral principles of that kind are blinders, which don't allow you to see some exciting secrets. In fact, they are eyes. There is a whole section of reality you will not see without them.
Moral laws are like other laws of science. It does not mean that you cannot do evil, but if you do evil, the results will be evil. It has nothing to do with the iron law of karma or divine justice. You can do very well out of it. But the final results will be evil - not necessarily right away.
And if not - in that case, the law was badly formulated. There can be mistakes in morality, like in any other science. In fact, there are much easier - because that science is much more difficult.
This because of the rule of complexity - if a system has many elements interacting in a nonlinear way, you cannot deduce the behaviour of the system, even though you know the behaviour of the elements and it is completely deterministic. (And, obviously, in reality it isn't, because of quantum mechanics. The possibilities are deterministic, but which one of them will happen - it is not.)
Because morality describes the most complex system available for us, it is obviously the most difficult science possible - even without taking any spiritual elements into consideration (and, obviously, you have to).
There is a very interesting thing with complex system - there can emerge new properties in them, which cannot be deduced from their elements, and cannot be named using terms describing them.
See Standish, On Complexity and Emergencehttp://www.complexity.org.au/ci/vol09/standi09/
Eg - living and dead. There is no physical or chemical difference between live and dead cat. There is no elan vital in one which you can discover as a new chemical compound or element. You cannot define it, that is (not to begin that discussion again) you cannot reduce it to chemical or physical terms. (You can define it good enough for any sensible man - but you need a sensible man first. You cannot define it for an automaton).
It is counterintuitive, but increasing complexity is in many respects undistinguishable from randomness. In fact, when you use eg Kolmogorov measure of complexity (the length of algorithm generating a given pattern), the random pattern is the most complex.
The difference is that the random pattern has no meaning. You don't need to copy it exactly. Any other similar random pattern will do as good. But really complex pattern makes sense - but only for those who understand it. For all of the other it could be as well random.
In that way, when you understand a new idea, a new word, you begin to see a new part of the world - and the other way round.
Here is an old speculation (not my own, it was a hobbyhorse of a mad Polish SF writer Adam Wiśniewski-Snerg). There are four known levels of beings - stones, plants, animals and men. No being can understand anything from a higher level - eg for dogs we are only bigger dogs. So should we see some higher being, of eg 5 level, we would see only a strange man - at best.
|Sunday, March 11th, 2007|
|Why ancient Greeks fought so much better than anyone else
It is a badly understood topic - why Greeks fought so much better than anyone else? It was not exactly democracy - Spartans were not quite democratic. It was something called "hoplite revolution" (it was a Revolution in Military Affairs, in modern parlance, and rather an evolution, not revolution sensu stricto).http://www.flowofhistory.com/units/birth/3/FC19http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Greek_warfare#The_hoplite_phalanx
In the traditional way of conducting war there were two classes - nobles and commoners. Nobles fought on chariots, on horses, or sometimes on foot, but always fully armed and trained. They were brave, but fought individually, for honor and loot. The commoners were poorly armed and occupied themselves mostly by shooting arrows etc. They were used as "filler", to stop the enemy nobles from free movement on the field. Real killing was done by elite.
The fighting, except for massed chariot charges, was done in spurts. (And cavalry also charged and then retreated). Two crowds stood facing one another and shooting arrows etc. From time to time a hero would jump forward, kill somebody and retreat into his own crowd. All were afraid of being attacked from the back, and so always had to retreat. You can see that kind of fighting on football stadiums.
The visible sign of hoplite revolution was moving the handle on the shield from the centre to the rim. This way, the shield covered mostly the neighbour, and the hoplite couldn't fight alone at all. He had to fight in a line which moved all at once.
Herodotus, Battle of Plataeahttp://www.herodotuswebsite.co.uk/Text/Book9.htm
"For the Persians had made a rampart of their wicker shields, and shot from behind them sUch clouds of arrows, that the Spartans were sorely distressed. The victims continued unpropitious; till at last Pausanias raised his eyes to the Heraeum of the Plataeans, and calling the goddess to his aid, besought her not to disappoint the hopes of the Greeks.
As he offered his prayer, the Tegeans, advancing before the rest, rushed forward against the enemy; and the Lacedaemonians, who had obtained favourable omens the moment that Pausanias prayed, at length, after their long delay, advanced to the attack; while the Persians, on their side, left shooting, and prepared to meet them. And first the combat was at the wicker shields. Afterwards, when these were swept down, a fierce contest took Place by the side of the temple of Ceres, which lasted long, and ended in a hand-to-hand struggle. The barbarians many times seized hold of the Greek spears and brake them; for in boldness and warlike spirit the Persians were not a whit inferior to the Greeks; but they were without bucklers, untrained, and far below the enemy in respect of skill in arms. Sometimes singly, sometimes in bodies of ten, now fewer and now more in number, they dashed upon the Spartan ranks, and so perished.
The fight went most against the Greeks, where Mardonius, mounted upon a white horse, and surrounded by the bravest of all the Persians, the thousand picked men, fought in person. So long as Mardonius was alive, this body resisted all attacks, and, while they defended their own lives, struck down no small number of Spartans; but after Mardonius fell, and the troops with him, which were the main strength of the army, perished, the remainder yielded to the Lacedaemonians, and took to flight."
Some descriptions of ancient and modern kind of war:http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/hoplite-rev.html
What Spartans thought about those that left their rank for any reason:
(Herodotus, battle of Plataea)http://www.herodotuswebsite.co.uk/Text/book9b.htm
"The bravest man by far on that day was, in my judgment, Aristodemus - the same who alone escaped from the slaughter of the three hundred at Thermopylae, and who on that account had endured disgrace and reproach: next to him were Posidonius, Philocyon, and Amompharetus the Spartan. The Spartans, however, who took part in the fight, when the question of "who had distinguished himself most," came to be talked over among them, decided - "that Aristodemus, who, on account of the blame which attached to him, had manifestly courted death, and had therefore left his place in the line and behaved like a madman, had done of a truth very notable deeds; but that Posidonius, who, with no such desire to lose his life, had quitted himself no less gallantly, was by so much a braver man than he." Perchance, however, it was envy that made them speak after this sort. Of those whom I have named above as slain in this battle, all, save and except Aristodemus, received public honours: Aristodemus alone had no honours, because he courted death for the reason which I have mentioned."