Warriors are not manufactured, and when they are the results are typically poor. The capacity for their active life is instead inherent, present only within a certain type. While virtually all men possess a warrior vitality, only a few are capable of taking this to its summit, as only a few are capable of taking the ascetic priestly virtue to its summit.
We want to better understand this type. To do so, we’ll use as a foundational text extracts from The Constitution of a Traditional Society: Warriors (I, II, III) written by Guido de Giorgio. Giorgio was a restless Italian philosopher living through the Interwar Period, during which he collaborated closely with both Julius Evola and René Guénon. In spite of his relative obscurity, his insights into the functioning of the warrior are indispensable.
In the organic state, warriors are comparable to the ramparts of the city. They are its exposed points inheriting, by virtue of what they are, the hardest path in life. They can neither fully exist in a state of blessed ignorance (as most do), nor in a state of true knowing (as priests do). Instead, they must struggle with an impulse that is constantly in motion, referred to by Giorgio as the “World of Rhythms”. The actions of the warrior constitute acts of love in the sense that they make a devotional offering, that of victory and valiance.
The force that animates the Warrior is love in its most destructive capacity and devotion in its most constructive form: love and devotion constitute the warrior cycle which is that of triumphant virility. While knowledge dominates for the Priests, for the Warriors, love dominates, because all their strength is a type of offering in a continuous dissatisfaction that is satisfied only with death. While they cannot know the divine world, they love it and tend to it, climbing over human limitations with a constant overcoming of Rhythms over Form.
The active life of the warrior is defined through granting a sacred character to every manifestation, hence why they will die for things, rather than because of things. They rush towards their demise as a kind of affirmation of human victory over death, for in ceasing to value their material life they affirm its negligibility to a higher existence. Nobody quite confirms the statement “death is not the end” with as much zeal as the warrior.
When Giorgio speaks of “Rhythms”, he makes reference to a psychic state entirely distinct from the spiritual and noetic factors which inform the priestly caste. This state, at which strength overflows, is born from an active form of ascesis represented in a material and mortal sacrifice.
While all other men compromise, they are the intransigents, those who make the obstacle the prize of their strength, for which the cement is the sanctification of man: they know that only death can placate them, so in confronting it, they escape it, and in escaping it, they confront it because it comes only when the peak of power is reached in the peak of abandonment.
There is a strong focus on the casting off of the significance of one’s earthly life (though of course in a very different sense from asceticism commonly conceived.) The warrior will give up the pleasures of the body not by denying them, but by destroying their very vehicle. Only if he dies in battle will the true warrior be satisfied. Perhaps in understanding this, we can better explain the excesses of warriors, in military brothels or otherwise. They do not practice effectively the kind of ascesis one expects, certainly not to the extent that a priest does. Their method is more tragic and momentary: when the throat is cut, when the organ is pierced, when the body is mashed to a pulp at which point evil can no longer inhabit it.
Most are familiar with the concept of the ‘Great War’ and the ‘Small (or lesser) War’, which find their most obvious expression in the two categories of Islamic Jihad. In the Great War, the field of action is man’s own heart, hence why it is contained within contemplation and an internal struggle against vice, temptation, and ignorance. Victory in this war is divine solitude and the achievement of theosis. The warrior cannot fight this Great War to its end, since it is inappropriate for him. He instead fights the Small War.
Warriors themselves are consecrated by the Priests, nor can they not be, without ceasing to belong to their caste since the war that they fight must represent a reduced version of the Great War in order to be legitimate, it must lose, i.e., the external character and conquer a deep meaning that justifies its attainment. The Warriors therefore submit themselves to an inner discipline, to a true and proper ascesis that will consist in their depassionalization so that by killing, they know how to kill themselves, by defeating, to defeat themselves, by considering the enemies as victims, in the sacred sense, and not as flesh from the slaughterhouse, by respecting them as themselves, by passing over the carnage with the love that redeems, over the contaminations with the purity that justifies, over death, and over atrocity of death with the consciousness that nothing can die because nothing can be born, only the eternal existing in its inaccessible reality.
Carnage here is offered up as a dedication, and the enemy is seen as a glimpse of oneself, a malevolent doppelganger. The warrior sees in his enemy the part of himself which blocks his vision of God, and thus the part that must be extinguished. What’s more, these enemies are seen as ‘material duplicates’ of true enemies, which remain invisible, hidden either within the psyche or even perhaps occupying some order of the demonic. The actual human nature of the enemy does not matter, only what he comes to symbolize. If he is not imbued with this kind of significance, then his death is a paltry assassination and not a victory.
The Warrior is guided by his love for the Divine Principle that is close to him, almost accessible and even distinct, in which he centers himself when the heroic peak happens and the confluence of Rhythms generates the supreme passion, that of dedication to God of the carnage: then a super-action of the normal human faculties operates, that adapt, raising himself in the highest development of the consuming fire and the Warrior becomes the great sacrificer, the victimarius, and the baptism of blood is a catharsis that renews him, freeing him with his violence from human brutality, redeeming him as in a purifying basin [Ex 30:18] that cleanses horror with piety at every death.
Two more important points that Giorgio raises. The first is the importance of the land to the warrior, which we perhaps find ‘patriotism’ and ‘nationalism’ to be mediocre descriptions of. Not only is the land viewed as the homestead of the warrior’s ascension, his training ground for his final purpose which is death, but further he views it as a rightful possession of God. The warrior loves God and in protecting His land, he defends God’s possession from being snatched away from where it has been rightfully placed, under the care of the warrior. This is why war can have a sacral character beyond a Darwinistic struggle for resources. The second is the nature of peace. Peace is superior to war only in the sense that it is the crowning glory of war. Giorgio perhaps gives an addendum to Maistre’s insistence upon the necessity of conflict in ‘The St Petersburg Dialogues‘; that in the absence of war, peace is meaningless. There is no achievement upon which it rests. A peace achieved through the obliteration of an enemy’s army is far more valuable than a peace achieved through economic coercion, so often inappropriately deployed in the Modern World.
The relation of the warrior to the priest is a little tricky. Giorgio is very clear that the only way in which a warrior’s activity is given a sacred character is if it is sanctioned by a priestly type, and bear in mind that his strict belief in caste precludes interference in such an endorsement by pretenders or false priests. They have absolutely no authority. The most formal (and ideal) sanction of the active life is a warrior rite, which is as simple as a blessing. When a priest blesses a soldier, this may look like any other blessing, but it is of a different order, as is the blessing of weapons. War is made holy through these actions.
Considering the whole tradition in its triple aspect of Silence, Rhythm, and Forms which correspond to the Priests, Warriors, and Workers, the second caste occupies an intermediate position of equilibrium between the two extremes and serves to maintain the traditional unity because its attribute is power.
This equilibrium status of the warrior is part of the metaphysical justification for their temporal power. It is not only based on the fact that they are adept in killing. Giorgio minces no words in distinguishing the spiritual authority from the temporal power. It is only by legitimate authority (which comes from above oneself) that legitimate power is exercised. Confusion between these two results in anomalous occurrences. We should note at this point that Giorgio believed every good Traditional leader was in fact a warrior refined by the priestly caste who make him God’s representative.
The asceticism of the Leader is in a sense superior to that of the Warriors because it is vaster and more integral, accommodating in himself all the developments of the active life in order to maintain them within the traditional ambit with the spiritual authority of the Priests and the power of the Warriors, from the former, the conscience, and from the latter, the personality so that ascetically the last in front of God is the first in front of men.
It is probably admissible to say that the leader is described here as a warrior priest. If this is possible in one man, it is likely possible in more, and history would seem to indicate so given the legendary priest-warrior orders which have existed across cultures, though these should always be regarded as peculiar if wondrous circumstances.
Returning to the warrior’s relation to the priest, it is asserted that as long as they both remain within their caste boundaries, no conflict is possible. Only when these boundaries are pushed does friction arise. Disputes must be resolved within a framework of united purpose which encompasses these two types, from which discontent can only ever emerge due to individual and thus unimportant factors.
So how have we deviated from the warrior tradition in the contemporary era? Giorgio is highly critical of the way in which technology has been implemented in the practice of Modern warfare, lauding the use of cold weapons as far purer than explosives, though he does appreciate the personal nature of the duel.
War should be led back to its fixed normalizing function, i.e., to exist permanently for the single caste of the Warriors. The duel that so called civil society of the West, barbarous in reality, repudiated with satanic thoughtlessness while they turn current conflicts into a hellish game of machines that work the foolish and most ungodly destruction, would be the essential condition of the return to normality in case it was led back to its natural, spontaneous, i.e., effective, form and not to that modern parody that stands to the duel as the courtier stands to the knight.
Furthermore, of greater significance is the pollution of castes, which brings the democratic levelled masses, every man, woman, and child, to the point of savage desperation. His critique is all the more understandable when one reflects that it was written during the time of total war’s emergence. Remember that due to our security, we have not experienced total war since this time, but the victims of predatory and convoluted ‘humanitarianism’ have. What’s worse, many of these wars are deliberately indecisive, making them even more horrific.
Modern wars—and for us, this “modernity” lasts for centuries—are the products of the democratic degeneration that has levelled humanity substituting for the Warrior caste a fictitious hierarchy in times of peace, even chaotic in times of conflict when every citizen must become what he never was, i.e., a soldier.
Past wars were more intense and frequent, but occurred in far smaller proportions relative to today, and this was not simply a product of population difference, but the way, and in some cases the motive, by which they were fought.
Though some of his inferences are difficult to read, Giorgio seems to be critical of the negative relationship which developed in the West between the Papacy and temporal authorities. He seems to judge this as a withdrawal of the priestly hand from the world, depriving it of spiritual sustenance. This perhaps indicates that he gave more weight to the ministry through the state than to a more individual ministry which became a de facto approach over time once religion entered into confrontation with monarchy, likely due to estrangement.
The relationship between the two powers is very delicate and the development of Europe shows how often the disputes between the spiritual and the temporal have assumed immense proportions up to the point of becoming outright hostility. There is a reason for all that: the imperfect realization of the traditional unity, that must be ascribed to the defection of the priestly class which can always make its authority matter, with well understood spiritual means, provided they don’t distance themselves from sacred knowledge and in this, it only demands the defense of the highest values of the spirit.
For a return to the World of Tradition, Giorgio affirms what is commonly held by Reactionaries. Normality will only resume from a concordat between priestly and warrior types. The intellectual and contemplative understanding of the former will inform the decisive action of the latter, in unnoticed but dutiful service to the lower castes who are always powerless in the face of history.
For centuries the masses flounder in bestial tumults and will still flounder as long as the Priests and the Warriors permit it: that if these two castes feel the enormous weight of their responsibility and have the awareness of their respective domains and their true obligations, no one could prevent the restoration of traditional unity, the new equilibrium that would reopen the great passageway to eternity for the glory of God in heaven and the peace of men on earth.