In an age of increasing dissolution, my thoughts and efforts have been concentrated on the cultivation of a true and enduring masculinity. With so many subversive elements thrown at the modern, urban male, it can be an incredible struggle to find masculine role models who are not, in some way, tainted. And I fear the most common and insidious deficiency in otherwise exemplary men is the aversion to violence.
To begin, I must stress that the platonic form of Man, the Übermensch that I will allude to henceforth is not the abomination described by Nietzsche. His unbridled masculinity contains the capacity and the attitude necessary to dominate, but also the sense of stewardship necessary to make him a leader rather than a tyrant. This is, however, one of the razor-thin lines he must walk; tyranny and cruelty are the innate vices of the male animal. But our Übermensch is keenly aware that mastery is superior to tyranny, and that it is the highest form of Glory, reserved in small portions for fathers and husbands, but ultimately owned only by kings and by God.
With that said, it may not be immediately intuitive why violence should hold an exalted position within the portfolio of Man. Simply put, violence is the fundamental source of value. The universal currency has never been gold, it has always been blood. The sweat of a man’s brow and the work of his hands, even at the basic level of agriculture, is violence: it is a violation upon Mother Earth, who is all too willing to give up a bounty to those willing to dominate her. It is from this tradition that Macchiavelli wrote “Fortune is a woman… it is necessary to beat and ill-use her; and it is seen that she allows herself to be mastered by the adventurous… therefore, always, woman-like, a lover of young men, because they are less cautious, more violent, and with more audacity command her.”
On an esoteric level, it is the ritual of sacrifice which imposes a Uranian order upon a Titanic earth by allowing man to participate in a microcosm of the Divine order, by acting out one of the mythical victories of Gods or heroes against the daemons. This act resonates up into higher planes, ordering the universe around the ritual and aligning the participants with higher forms. But for sacrifice to be efficacious, it has to be violent. The release of blood is complemented by the release of spirit; and the holy site of the ritual becomes a theatre in which forces from above and below receive their own again, and are forced to take notice of the Man. He is the only creature capable of orienting the universe around himself, temporary though it may be, through this sacrament of blood.
With this archetype of violence in mind, let us turn to other violent acts, some archetypal and some utterly mundane.
The association between violence and mastery will allow us to talk about how violence is foundational to any respectful and well-organized society. Respect is also a masculine trait, like its cousins honour and duty. Respect between men is fundamentally a relationship predicated on acknowledgement of the mutual capacity for violence. Any cursory study of human social interaction and body language will suffice to give the student a clear picture of how male one-upmanship is the civilized solution to the headbutting and antler-waving of the animal kingdom.
Even the craven and dissolute of our species recognize an Alpha male when they meet one, however they would complain of the traits that imply that status in the abstract. And the most disgusting defeatism they can display, beyond the now garden-variety cuckoldry and sodomy, is the approval of abortion and veganism.
Though they seem distant, these examples are, in truth, intimately related. So intimately, that I challenge my readers to find me a vegan who does not also believe in abortion. But that is an aside.
Abortion should be an obvious case: approving of violence against the utterly helpless is tantamount to tyranny, and if it could possibly be made less forgivable, the willingness to abort his own child would damn this waste of flesh irredeemably.
Veganism is more arcane. I wish there to be no confusion here: the consumption of meat is a morally neutral act. I would not wish to imply that our brothers and sisters who abstain from meat are in any way morally deficient. I myself have always eaten a Mediterranean diet, and have never been comfortable with the conspicuous and unsustainable consumption of meat that takes place around me.
Furthermore, the philosophy of Mastery absolutely requires responsible and sustainable management of land and livestock. The integrated Man is exalted in his compassion towards his inferiors, and is rightfully reviled when he is cruel to those that depend on him. This rightfully amounts to a scathing opposition to the modern, industrial mechanisms which enable our conspicuous consumption of meat.
However, mainstream veganism is not based on the doctrine of Mastery. Instead, it is the ultimate philosophy of human self-loathing; a philosophy which privileges the lives of animals above the lives of humans, for reasons that might be minimized by calling them bourgeois. Sentimentalism has only instrumental uses to the integrated Man: to feed the creation of great art, and to kindle the emotions which make him capable of great love. To damage himself, scar his body through neglect, and renounce the possibility of personally taking part in the ritual of Creation, for fear of damaging a bourgeois ideal of unmolested, picturesque nature?
Be it the crude forging of weapons, the brute domination of agriculture, or the refined composition of music, Creation is the crowning ability of Man, who was made in the image of the greatest Creator. To reject the opportunity to create is to reject the opportunity to further integrate one’s Self; it is the action of forsaking one’s birthright as a Man. And in the throes of this mutilation of his own Manhood, his support for abortion comes into focus as another, intimately related act of disfigurement against the image of God. However, it is tempered, as is all evil the modern mad man produces, by his spineless refusal to at least carry out the act with his own hands.
This brings us back around full-circle. With the capacity for directly committing violence serving as a stand-in for the ability to make an efficacious sacrifice, the privilege of the Patrician castes and the proportionally smaller share of glory and mastery afforded to the serf husband and father is understandable. The king holds the ear of the gods, and can demand their attention in more ways than one, to exact a much larger change than the mere head of a household might. This power comes with the monstrous responsibility to be master rather than tyrant, and shepherd to one’s subordinates. The great pyramid of order is opposed by and built on the shifting black sands of Chaos, and to cede any ground willingly is not only a betrayal of the people who serve the Leader, but a concession to the Adversary and a betrayal of God and the divine order. Since time immemorial, this has been the driving force in the battle against the Other. Whether is was Persia against the armies of darkness, Rome against the barbarians, or Sparta against the rest of Greece. From the bottom regions of the pyramid, it may appear to be a dialectic of good and evil. But from the reaches of power, it is only a question of order and chaos. This ancient perception of the holy war against the darkness is critical to understanding much of history. The defining experience of the Indo-European soul has always been warfare. The warrior continues to be a sacred archetype in the modern world, if only in the debased disguise of modern soldiers.
The understanding of sacrifice also prevents any of the bourgeois and sentimentalist attitudes toward violence that modern democratic nations purport to believe in. The ideal of violence only as a last resort, only in self- defense, is a betrayal of principle. The soldier who fights for his nation only in self-defense must contend with the understanding that he has sunk to the level of the enemy and become something that the people he fights to protect abhorr in principle: an agent of violence. He must return with the knowledge that he is marked for life by having been a killer, a warrior, something that his society believes has no place amongst them, but that they are willing to allow and excuse in certain circumstances.
Is it any wonder that so many modern soldiers, thrown into a combat theatre with no real mission and no end in sight, are disillusioned? Is it still shocking that men who, in times past, would have known that their limited capacity for violence was what kept them in the lower castes, as laborers and craftsmen, are destroyed by the confrontation of the Infinite in warfare? Eric Maria Remarque was famously one of these, and his novel on the subject is considered by many to be the greatest novel of war ever written.
These are the values of the lower castes. But there is counterpart understanding. Ernst Junger wrote, in Storm of Steel, the story of a man of a higher caste who was exalted by his contact with the Infinite in warfare. Who was awakened and set free, and whose moments of sentimentalism and bourgeios feeling were tempered by a warrior’s resolve. A man who hunted his enemy ruthlessly, took revenge for the deaths of his Kameraden, and delighted in the primordial rush of “pack hunting” with his men. But it is also the story of a man who detested that his enemies were the finest young men that the Entente could find. That bitterly hated the fiends who convinced children of 17 to sign up to be ground into pieces by artillery and scalded by gas. A man who spared a father whom he found, unarmed, clutching a photo of his family.
We may debate the specifics of honour and duty, but there can be no debate that Junger was a master in his own domain. His sparing of the enemy officer was entirely up to him, as they were alone in an empty stretch of trench. And this perception illustrates well the responsibility that comes with mastery. The manly vigour required to make use of that power in a resonant way is rare indeed.
In these dissolute times, without the advantages of caste and breeding, it is difficult to fit together the pieces of the ruins we stand in and to find ourselves upright, both in stature and in terms of honour owed our ancestors. But there are clues we can gather to aid us in our search for meaning. One of the easiest and most important ones is our attitude towards violence.
Mastery even features in love, where the masculine element is meant to complement the feminine (however those elements exist divided between the individual man and woman). The man’s willingness to protect his wife and children is the obvious material consequence, but his relative dominance and his mastery over his wife is of equal importance. Just as his society is structured to control his behaviour and encourage him to orient himself within the divine order, so must his house be oriented towards providing this to his family, and that includes his wife. When this is all in order, when a man does not have to worry what will become of his children if his wife were left alone to raise them, then his love for her and for them takes on the character of a higher caste: the warrior’s indifference towards death. Even the lowest peasant can reach the glory normally reserved for heroes, if he is willing to take it.
The warrior is enlightened even above the priest because of his intimate experience with violence. The priest may be qualified to make the sacrifice, but the warrior does not merely re-enact the myth: he does so with his every breath and act. He in has cultivated a careful disdain for life and its luxuries, and lives with his face turned upward, endlessly seeking to embody the divine.
I will finish this essay with a short anecdote about the nature of man’s highest cultural achievement: warfare.
Make no mistake, the modern concept of war is an abomination. It is the lurching, spasmodic progress of the Machine, grinding flesh and bone underfoot, burning and salting sacred ground for political and economic interests alone. It is now a well-worn epithet in our circles that the century of international banking could not have been other than the century of international warfare, as the daemonic engine of the capitalist machine finally reached a frenzy of activity and motion that could not be stopped. Thus, over scant centuries, was the spiritual understanding of the hero-warrior replaced with the patriotism of the merely expendable soldier. Thus was chivalry replaced by mere discipline, and thus was cosmic order usurped by a political military hierarchy.
But even in the debased, modern version of warfare with which we are now familiar, there is the opportunity for profound introspection. Warfare presents an aspect of the Infinite to the soldier, and most are obliterated by the encounter. The sudden and horrific correlations which occur within their minds create lasting trauma, and they spend the rest of their lives trying to reconcile the experience of modern warfare with the anemic, insufficient cultural weltanschaaung that once inspired them. As I have already covered, there can be no integrated explanation for the experience of the modern soldier, so long as he subscribes to the democratic myth.
To those still possessed of a warrior’s or ascetic’s spirit, however, there is still the possibility for transcendence. Not through the participation in a Crusade, a cause, or a sacred war, for these have by now entirely faded into the annals of history, and are constantly threatened by the obfuscation which the Moderns use to demonize our past glories. No, it is in the divine simplicity of violence that the modern soldier, possessed of a heroic soul, may participate in the life-affirming moments of pure Being. It is in combat that the superiority of the heroic soul can still make itself known as it sacrifices its enemies for a share of glory. And the more visceral and intimate the combat, the more resonant does the sacrifice become.
I consider the epitome of this divine simplicity to be the unarmoured, one-on-one sword-fighting of the middle ages (and, to a large extent, the counterpart martial arts in Japan), but my exploration of those traditions deserves its own, separate essay.
One of the last sons of Perseus.
Zachariah is a Spartan of Doric descent, educated in Canada as a bioethicist.
His pursuit of transcendence has led him to tireless training, strict fasting, voracious reading, and regular pilgrimages back to the birthplace of his ancestors in the shadows of the Taygetus mountains.