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The One-Man Army -- A Practical Fantasy

Updated: Feb 16



A soldier in a battle mood.

The concept of a "One-Man Army" refers to an individual, often a fictional character, who possesses exceptional skills and abilities that make them capable of confronting and overcoming an entire collective, such as an actual army. In real life, however, as with cases such as Herbert Christian's killing 3 people in a row is at the very least enough for one to be a one-man army.


This concept extends beyond the military realm and can be applied to any field where merit and individual performance play a significant role. Perhaps this is one of the most enduring and widely appealing fantasies known to humankind. This article delves into the quality of this enticing concept.


While this concept is very-much existent in video games and other forms of media (like those involving ninjas), its origins can be traced far back into history. King David from the Old Testament is a prime example of a one-man army. His exceptional skill with a slingshot enabled him to defeat Goliath, an elite Philistine soldier who towered over him in terms of size, armor and strength.

Noah's shipbuilding skills enabled him to survive a global flood, demonstrating the potential for exceptional individuals to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges. Folklore undoubtedly holds many more expressions of this concept, both true and fictional. It is also in such media when we are taught to not be afraid of monsters as much.


While the idea of a one-man army might appeal to some megalomaniacs, it's important to recognize its rarity. Throughout history, there have undoubtedly been instances of lone soldiers repelling significant numbers of enemies (Another example being Arthur W. Wermuth), but such cases remain exceptional. Human progress and civilization have been built on cooperation and alliances rather than solitary endeavors.


In a world driven by competition for resources and customers, industries and corporations constantly fight for relevance. Those who fail, remain under the ceilings of anonymity. However, solitary individuals often struggle to achieve the same level of impact and efficency as entire communities. This doesn't necessarily negate the value of solitude (to the individual, at least), but it highlights the importance of balance and cooperation.


While knowledge is power, not all knowledge is equally potent. Expertise in martial arts, for example, can enable an individual to overcome a group of less skilled opponents. Similarly, navigational expertise can prove invaluable in wilderness settings. Would you say, however, that martial arts can help you in the wilderness as much as the other field of expertise?


The point is, that the preference for collective effort stems from the inherent strength in having each other's backs. If you want to survive in the wilderness, but lack the navigational expertise, you won't have to bother learning it yourself when you can recruit someone who is an expert navigator. And if you happen to be an expert martial artist, you could, at least partially, serve as that navigator's bodyguard (in case you would stumble across other people in the wilderness).


Collaboration often eases the burden of tasks and provides a support system for overcoming challenges. Human nature gravitates towards cooperation to conserve energy and maximize overall efficency.


To cultivate one-man-army potential, becoming an auto-didact is essential. Many people remain hesitant to explore new technologies or skills independently, relying on external guidance. However, self-sufficiency and the willingness to learn on one's own are crucial for personal growth and development.


While serial killers are undoubtedly detestable individuals, their solitary existence offers insights into the resilience and determination of individuals operating outside social structures, for they exist in what I call the outskirts of society, as "insanes". Their ability to function independently, while not to be condemned by itself, highlights the potential for exceptional individuals to thrive in isolation.


The world can indeed be a harsh place, and individuals often find themselves alone. Online communities, for instance, can abruptly dismiss or delete contributions without explanation. Trusted allies can quickly disappear if persuaded by alternative viewpoints (and opportunities). While help is valuable, it's not always readily available, and not always reliable.

Sometimes you have no choice but to move forward, alone or with allies by your side. This is why it is critical to understand how to persevere in solitude, because anyone can pull the rug out from under you. Sometimes, it's those you know who might do so, too.


While largely a fantasy, I still think it can be valuable to strive to be more self-sufficient in certain areas of our lives. That's because, doing so can help one survive, should one be left out of another's valuable company. It might be a fantasy, but it's one we can greatly learn from, and apply its philosophy to our own lives, in case we ever need to.

Let us all try to be "one person armies," so we will be the least disappointed by the world and more hopeful about continuing to exist in it. Because sometimes we better do things ourselves.


Solitude isn't always an option. Sometimes it's an inevitability, especially if you're at "the top"


In conclusion, while the one-man-army concept can entice us, it's crucial to recognize the power of cooperation and the importance of settling a balance between solitude and collaboration. Being an auto-didact, resilience, and the ability to adapt to isolation can be imperative in the achievement of personal growth and the conquest of challenges.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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