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).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

Moral heroism cannot be the norm

Any civilization that demands moral heroism as a norm is doomed to collapse from exhaustion. No person, and no community, has limitless reserves of moral courage. Moral heroism cannot be sustained perpetually and must always be an exception. Many people cannot even muster it in the exception.

This limitation, which is part of human nature, is often misunderstood in individualistic societies where morality is not thought to be a collective effort and is instead treated as if each person could and should pursue their moral perfection in isolation and without public interference. What happens then, inevitably, is that the social norms that traditionally regulated morality begin to lose their force (in the name of individualism) and certain forbidden behaviors propagate and flourish in the name of ‘rights’ and ‘freedom’ and ‘personality’. At this point, the few who wish to remain virtuous are in a sad position, because there is no such thing as a private moral life.

In the face of a society that practices vice as a collective norm, the individual who wishes to behave morally will find themselves in a situation where each day requires an immense act of moral discipline. It is part of man’s nature to be absorbed in the collective of which he is a part, and it is unnatural to have to reject what everyone else is doing. It is inhumane. Such a man will have to forcibly alienate himself from his neighbors, which is obviously not a normal, healthy social state. Quite the opposite. In other words, he will have to, each day, make a heroic moral effort to remain true to his conscience. No one can do this perpetually.

It is a horrible injustice to moral people to treat them as if it were up to them to go against the grain of a society that has no regard for moral behavior and prefers to let anything go. Modern people imagine that they exist in a context of near total freedom, where behaviors are mutually exclusive, but this has never been the case.

Licentious communities persecute those who do not wish to degrade themselves by forcing them to live out an anti-social lifestyle, deprived of the essential goods of community life.

We see the same difficulty during wartime, both for the solider and society at large. The sacrifices and the forms of discipline that a solider survive during war are so extreme that they require a heroic level of effort to emerge spiritually intact. Likewise, in the face of fear and hate, any society that participates in war must also muster a moral energy that approaches the heroic in order not to lose itself to the negative passions that flare up. Such states should never be prolonged.

This is one of the primary reasons that perpetual military action is morally destructive not only to the members of the military but to civilization in general. It permits an exceptional experience (from which we can theoretically recover) to become the rule of daily life. Exceptional situations can demand exceptional responses, and we can often endure them, but we cannot expect exceptional responses every day, forever.

War that never ends, and a ceaseless propaganda of war, to which all modern societies are subject thanks to technology, is corrosive to all that is healthy and normal.

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