Act of War

The nations rally again for war, and the imagination of men’s hearts is again full of violence. The petty-minded meet the small-souled on the field of battle, which now happens to be the entire Earth, and the only outcome of this will be the mutual attrition of both.

That you can “take to the bank”, as they say. We’ve passed this way before, which would be self-evident were it not for the great paucity of historical memory. In the planetary era, though, all wars become civil wars within the one body of mankind.

The Grand Delusion of men’s minds is that great things are born of violence — the “birth” of nations and eras are often associated in the mind with wars and civil wars. This presumption of the meaning of violence, however false, is even perversely today honoured as a principle — “creative destruction”. It’s a confusion of cause and effect. Again, I invoke what I call “Khayyam’s Caution” — only a hair separates the false from the true.

Wars and civil wars do not usher in new eras and orders. They efface and erase old ones. They do so because men have not learned the secret of change at the right time. Decadent societies cling to dead forms and formulas, ritual and habitual ways of thought and action, which have long ceased to have any real meaning. Institutions and values that have exceeded their sell-by date become obstacles and hindrances to furthering life. In the absence of any intelligent and conscious strategy for being rid of the dead hand of an anachronistic and obsolete past, the nihilism and destructiveness of war becomes the default means of getting rid of them.

The destruction of war is the bonfire of the vanities. It is a great illusion to confuse this violence with creativity or “birth”. The irony of Late Modern warfare is that it is not “defence” at all, but self-effacement, its ostensible purposes blunted by its inherent nihilism. In the Global Era, especially, war becomes a form of suicide.



4 responses to “Act of War”

  1. abdulmonem says :

    Life is an act of war and that is why there is jihid. The misfortune resides in those who go for external jihid before finishing the schooling of the inner jihid, and forgetting that the two pillars of jihid are truth and justice. All future revolutions will be oriented toward truth and justice away from the sick isms that polluted the world and dropping gradually all liars and hypocrite. This can be felt through the non-specific agenda or demand of all recent movements.

  2. alex jay says :

    ” They do so because men have not learned the secret of change at the right time. Decadent societies cling to dead forms and formulas, ritual and habitual ways of thought and action, which have long ceased to have any real meaning.”

    On that note, you might be interested in this:

    • Scott Preston says :

      That is a very good documentary, one of the better ones that I’ve seen. It asks all the right questions and raises a few more worth pondering. I was especially surprised, given the theme of this post, to hear Runicman suggest that war is the “traditional way” by which eras end themselves or commit suicide. It’s rare to find that kind of insight into the meaning of war.

      I see Mr Zizek makes an appearance in the film. Despite my criticisms of Zizek, especially his failure to understand the meaning of the “Buddhist turn” in the West, I do agree with much of what he says.

      It is quite true that liberal democracy is in trouble, and it’s not particularly the problem of any one nation, but a crisis of modernity itself, that is to say, a crisis of modern consciousness, which has become very unclear about itself and its purposes. This lack of clarity has opened an opportunity for powerful interests to impose their own, usually self-serving, meanings on it. That is to say, everything we call “perception management”.

      The premises of liberal democracy are the same as the premises of “universal reason” — the conviction that people, reasoning together, can determine the best courses of action to achieve collective social goals, so the fate of democracy is linked to the state of reason.

      It’s the premise of this blog, as it is the premise of many contemporary social critiques, that reason is now in a very bad way. Gebser calls it “deficient”. Ralston Saul calls it “degenerate”, and a good many observers, (such as Morris Berman, Jane Jacobs, or William Irwin Thompson), are warning of the danger of a new “dark age”, an “eclipse of reason”. We have to determine why reason has fallen into such a sad state of repair, whether it was founded on faulty premises and assumptions, or too limited a set of premises and assumptions that distorted its evolution.

      It is, of course, the premise of The Chrysalis that “universal reason” was established upon the flimsiest of foundations, presumptive errors, a faulty logic, and an all-too-narrow focus that are now coming back to bite us. And that was Blake’s condemnation of “single vision & Newtons sleep” and of the worship of the “false god” he called Urizen, creator of the Ulro. “Narcissism” is another term for “single vision”.

      The condition of reason we can only assess in the form of the public conversation or public dialogue, or the very lack of it. This was Jean Gebser’s and Rosenstock-Huessy’s approach — “grammatical method” or dialogical method. They are both essentially “speech-thinkers”, diagnosing the health or ill-health of the social order cum structure of consciousness via its symbolizing functions and representations. Such symbolic forms are the real products or artifacts of a consciousness structure — that structure’s self-revelation or autobiography, as it were.

      If you pay close attention to the documentary, they are all saying, basically, that the public conversation is in a very poor way.

  3. LittleBigMan says :

    “We have to determine why reason has fallen into such a sad state of repair,”

    And you very correctly determine the answer to that question when you say that the universal reason was established upon “……all-too-narrow focus that are now coming back to bite us.”


    The eye of Sauron is fixed on “power,” and it isn’t going to consider sharing.

    I remember when my arm was put in a cast for a little over three months after I broke it in a fall before I was even a teenager, when the doctor opened the cast, I couldn’t move my arm at all. It took a month before I regained full functionality of my arm. That was an important lesson for me early in life that physical vigor and health dependent upon regular movement and use of the muscles in the body.

    But this is true for the mind, as well. When the “universal reason” is fixated on reason to acquire material things and pleasures, then even a useful tool like that turns into a decadent and deficient mentality.

    Stagnant air isn’t refreshing any more than water from a stagnant body of water. Fixation and the obsession of the universal reason with material things has brought it to decay. No doubt about it.

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