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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Physical compulsion and restraint

We have just discussed mental coercion in society and observed that not only is it permissible but in fact there is no real alternative. Now, we have to deal with situations in which mental coercion through external influence is not enough. This brings us to the question of physical compulsion.

The use of physical force is an extreme. It represents the last and least desirable stage of inducement, but it should be clear that it always takes place in connection to the lesser forms of inducement and presents itself only when other options prove untenable.

It was said above that external things cannot be evil in themselves, and this applies to external means of physical compulsion. To cut a person with a knife is not evil in itself, and to universally condemn this action without qualification is absurd. In the context of surgery, for example, the use of the knife might be lifesaving. Although this example is obvious, the same error is manifest in universal condemnations of physical compulsion.

External means are evil insofar as they manifest an evil will and/or are not directed to the good of the person being compelled. To return again to the example of the surgeon, it is easy to see that surgery might be lifesaving when done correctly and for the right reasons, but perverse when carried out with perverse intent and contrary to the good of the patient.

What, then, of general arguments against compulsion and suppression? Should small children be permitted to take drugs and play with weapons? Would an authority (first and foremost the parents) be right in using physical force to stop them, and if that was not enough, to lock them up long enough for the danger to pass?

If I see a neighbor entering a fit of rage and, knowing that he is weak and prone to be ruled by his passions, would it not be an act of love and friendship to restrain him and, if necessary, to lock him up?

If, out of love and out of a desire to save my friend from moral and physical destruction, I use physical compulsion (or restraint) to impose my will over and against his, how could this be construed as an act of ‘violence’ or ‘abuse’? And yet it seems to us that the proponents of a permissive liberalism would have difficulty explaining how their logic of non-resistance would not at the same time stop so many morally licit acts of physical compulsion.

The most important point here is that physical force cannot be categorized as either good or evil without consideration of the moral essence of the act as to whether it was done in accordance with love, and more specifically, love understood not as a transitory emotion but as a concern for the spiritual good of the one being compelled.

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