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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The warrior sacrifices himself both physically and morally

Having recapitulated the Christian notion of man’s sinfulness, we are now able to address another problem with idealistic interpretations of moral action.

First, without complete honesty about oneself and about man in general, it will be impossible even to formulate the right questions about confronting evil via compulsion, much less provide the right answers. We need to see everything we can see. If we are blind to man’s fallen nature, we will miss a huge part of the picture and we will offer inadequate cures or else we’ll offer cures for the wrong disease.

The greatest difficulty is this:

We cannot pose the question as if we were situated at a point of moral perfection, and as if we lived in a world that was likewise free of evil. If out of naivety or ideological blindness we begin as if we were in possession of perfect righteousness, then we make our primary struggle that of retaining this righteousness. If this were the case, then we would have to proceed by watching out for every possible imperfection that would degrade us in any way, and the only real path that would be open to us would be the path of pure and unadulterated righteousness.

If we approached things in that way, then clearly the use of physical force would be impossible to admit. This is because fighting and killing are always and everywhere imperfect in the sense that, in a perfect world, such things would never happen. In doing these things, even the hero suffers a kind of moral loss.

We do not say that the warrior sins, but that he involves himself in actions that are, strictly speaking, not righteous and that a truly righteous being, such as Christ, would not even consider.

This is why, in order to make sense of things, we must re-frame the issue and say that combat, for the good man, for the hero, takes on the aspect of a sacrifice of self, in the same way that Christ’s descent from heaven into the domain of chaos was a self-sacrifice even before the historical moment of crucifixion. Merely permitting oneself to descend from perfection to imperfection is a self-immolation. It is precisely this kind of moral immolation that the warrior suffers.

The difference of course is that Christ descended from absolute perfection, and the human warrior never possessed such a state. The analogy is therefore imperfect, but it clarifies what is missing from the purely idealistic attempts to understand violence and war. It allows us to admit that there is no way to frame this issue wherein the warrior, even in service of the good, can claim moral purity and righteousness. He cannot claim it—but he can reclaim it, and this is why the rituals of spiritual purification provided by the religions are of utmost importance to the warrior vocation. We will elaborate on this point below.

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