This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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Egoism and the loss of political purpose

We’ve already spoken of Abelard’s moral ego-centrism through which the discovery of the self almost became the discovery of the self to the exclusion of all other realities. We also acknowledged that the discovery of the self did not necessarily have to become an exclusively negative development, and that through men like Aquinas it was accepted and transfigured, becoming in Thomism what could be considered the apotheosis of Western philosophy. But through the Enlightenment, and with the downfall of Christendom, the Catholic anthropology was cast aside and with it the Thomist fusion of self and other. Ego-centrism was then released from all constraints. Finally, we acknowledged that this development undermined the relationship between right and duty, emphasizing rights above all else. Of this, Leo Strauss wrote:

“Through the shift of emphasis from natural duties or obligations to natural rights, the individual, the ego, had become the center and origin of the moral world, since man—as distinguished from man’s end—had become that center or origin.”[1]

Here we come to the two fundamentals of the Liberal mentality: egoism (man as the center of reality), and humanism. And the natural consequence of these two ideas is a total loss of teleology (a purposeful orientation toward an end). This is a point that is not adequately acknowledged in many criticisms of modernist and liberal regimes.

When man becomes the origin of morality, the external moral imperative, which traditionally tethered his actions to a standard outside himself and even beyond the created order, giving him an external and objective aim—all of this evaporates into thin air. The contemporary human actor has freedom, yes, but it is like being liberated from one’s natural atmosphere, like being flung into space, or into a desert. You are free! You have become the autonomous source and measure of the good, and you may go whatever direction you like—but you find yourself in empty space, in a desolate vacuum. You can go anywhere, but there is nowhere to go. What damnable freedom, and who would want it?

[1] Leo Strauss, Natural Right and History (University of Chicago, 1953), p. 248.

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