This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
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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Evil is by nature aggressive

Sometimes people talk of evil as if it will pass us by if we just ignore it, as a thing we may observe without risk to ourselves. They present sin as a thing encapsulated within the person who sins, in such a way that we can pass by if we wish and involvement is purely optional, such that only a moral busybody would be interested in some else’s ‘private affairs’. They ask us: “What is it to you if this man sins? It isn’t as if he were holding a gun to your head, making you sin with him. Let him be.”

Even on the level of practical experience this is demonstrably false. Sin propagates itself and what begins as a ‘private affair’ can consume an entire nation. Think of the most pernicious ideas in the history of politics. Were these plans not at one point the ‘private affair’ of one man, and at what point would it have been reasonable for someone else to intervene?

As for free speech that ignores its responsibility to truth, we encounter the same problem. If we permit someone to lie, the lie will likely be believed by someone, and this is enough to qualify as an abuse. Should we, on the basis of our infatuation with liberty, permit this abuse to go unchecked? Many lies are convincing and convincing lies left unchecked become truths. This happens all the time on the social level. Statements that would have been understood to be nonsense a few decades ago are now considered ‘facts’ for those who become convinced by them, and those who simply defend the alternative are today informed that they are ‘spreading hate’, etc.

Evil cannot be left to its own because evil is aggressive. Evil wants freedom first, but it can never stop there and eventually demands approval and finally participation.

Evil is evangelical. To opt for non-resistance is not to stand aloof but to be enlisted. This is why the ‘neutral bystanders’ wake up one day to find themselves either participants or heretics because the idea they ignored became an article of faith for their peers, and then it is too late.

The choice cannot be dismissed as a false dichotomy. Admittedly, a similar form of reasoning is frequently deployed in politics in order to drive voters to the voting booths. We’ve all heard the specious argument wherein are told that if we don’t vote for this person then we are implicitly voting for that person, and so on. Clearly, though, we are dealing with a difference of level and that this dualism, while disingenuous and frankly untrue when used in the context of party politics, is weighty and authentic when it comes to the fundamentally moral situation in which every person finds himself. That which, in elections, is a manipulative exaggeration is, in the soul, the very nature of things. In the order of social systems, economic theory, and political programs, there is always a multiplicity of possible solutions. Dichotomizing is almost always the mark of deceit. But on the level of good and evil, it is not so. There is no neutrality in this order of things.

This is why we say that evil must be resisted first and foremost because it is aggressive, and to ignore it is actually to submit to it. To cite again the work of Ivan Ilyin:

“Only one deprived of life experience could fail to see the aggressiveness of evil, its natural tendency to expand its possession, its domineering pressure, and then imagine that the power of evil can and must be exhausted by appeasement, patient humility and the giving over of all sacred things, human souls and the entire culture to a sacrificial doom.”[1]

[1] Ivan Ilyin, On Resistance to Evil by Force, p. 150.

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