This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

The warrior does not possess righteousness

Returning to the vocation of the warrior, we can cite again from Ivan Ilyin, who described his situation well:

“Man is not righteous, and he does not fight evil either as a righteous man or among the righteous. Thinking of the origin of evil in itself, and fighting it in itself, and remaining apart from it while taking account of it to the end, man finds himself compelled to help others in their struggle to stop the activities of those who have already surrendered to evil and are seeking universal destruction. The one who carries out suppression himself stands in the marsh, but his foot rests on firm ground, and thus he helps others who are sucked down by the quagmire to come out onto the firm ground, trying to protect them and save them, and realizing that he himself can no longer come out dry from the marsh.”[1]

Like the executioner of old, the warrior takes up his sword and walks into the mire. He cannot but emerge covered in filth, if he emerges at all.

This is the absurdity of approaching the question as if we were like Christ, seated in heaven at the right hand of God, and it were a question of ‘should we or should we not rise up and go down to fight alongside the fallen’, for we are already there. The question must be posed in an entirely different way.

It is not just the warrior, although his case is more tragic. It is all of us. We are not righteous, but wish to pursue righteousness, and we cannot pursue it if we refuse to act in any way that involves us in unrighteousness, since we are already involved in it and, like the pilgrim in Dante, the road to paradise leads into the inferno.

Any thinker who ignores his personal unrighteousness, which he shares with all men, will also ignore the unrighteousness of the warrior and fail to understand that all human actions are doomed to a degree of imperfection, and so his ‘moral’ answers will rest on hypocrisy or naivety or both. And when he finally does glimpse the reality of the situation, he will become utterly frozen and useless as he searches for a ‘righteous option’ and finds nothing forthcoming, and anyone who looks to him for answers will likewise be stuck at a fork in the road that presents no guarantees.

[1] Ivan Ilyin, On Resistance to Evil by Force, p. 165.

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