A Justification For War In The Political Realm

In my copy of Schmitt’s The Concept of the Political, the previous owner angrily scrawled in the margins of page 49 where Schmitt writes, “War… has no normative meaning, but an existential meaning only, particularly in a real combat situation with a real enemy.” The previous owner raged against this statement in pencil, furiously accusing Schmitt of writing nonsense, the words tiny and compact as to fit as many as possible across the edges of the paper. This person refused to accept the notion that the experience of existential threat voids all claims of rationality and ideology.

Schmitt is right, however, that when faced with the prospect of death, the only imperative is to survive, to conquer, to win. In other words, to quote Publilius Syrus, nihil aliud scit necessitas quam vincere.

I don’t know if the person who wrote in my book was a liberal or conservative. It is a sign of the times that the language being used is so prevalent in Western politics that their author’s ideology is not exposed through his objection to Schmitt. In this case, however, the opacity of the scrawler’s political preference is exactly the point; whether it was a Cruz supporter or Bernie boy, it reflects a failure of understanding on the part of the modern American ideologue.

Schmitt’s major argument here is not that modern ethics of war and conflict are hypocritical; the apparent hypocrisy is, at best, beside the point. The point Schmitt is making is that in the heat of conflict rationalizations are irrelevant. Reality exists under its own power and logic, regardless of our attempt to make it conform to an ethical system. Schmitt rejects Von Clausewitz’s claim that war is politics by other means, but I believe he rejects it because he asserts the inverse in his understanding of politics: politics is war by other means. By making the political the fundamental distinction of friend and enemy, in which there must be the potential of armed conflict between the collective one and the collective other, he makes war fundamental to human nature and social organization. To be involved in the political is to be involved in war, even if the guns-and-bullets aspect is only potential, not actualized. To be involved in politics means to be involved in existential struggle, and as Schmitt tells us, the norms and ideologies ultimately fade away in the face of the fundamental friend-enemy distinction.

What we have in Schmitt is an insight into the political struggle: in the existential moment, the ideological character of the fight is irrelevant. In the existential moment of politics, the ideologies only signify friendship or enmity. When one is in the trenches, gripping a short-handled spade, facing another human being with a bayonet, it doesn’t really matter what the other man believes.  It doesn’t matter if he is communist or royalist, liberal or conservative. If he is the Enemy, there will be a bloody struggle for life. Both soldiers will use everything they have in order to win. Politics, being such an existential battle for survival between two collectives, as Schmitt describes, must likewise be fought on these terms. In the face of the destruction of your people, the norms and ideology of your society are meaningless. You must do whatever is necessary to defeat the other.

“Taking the high road” is a fancy way of saying that you prefer suicide to struggle.

What this means is that the conservative attempt to deal liberalism a crushing, rhetorical blow is ultimately hollow. The Right has taken the notion that Ideas Have Consequences far too seriously, and perhaps Weaver’s vocation as a rhetorician has opened him to the false conclusion that wars can be won with words, or that the Left is not really the enemy. Given my understanding of the mainstream Right, it is likely that both are true at the same time. This should be nothing new to reactionary thought, however, as it is almost cliché to say that a conservative is simply a leftist who has fallen a little behind the herd.

Unlike Sam Francis, though, I do not believe that Weaver’s insights are invalid; the content of leftist ideology does have inevitable consequences when applied to politics. If you attempt to level society through governmental action, the result will fall along certain, predictable lines. Where modern conservatives take this too far is to treat this as a deterministic model, where leftism inevitably collapses under its own contradictions and the respectable Right is ushered into power by a relieved electorate who finally understands and appreciates the doctrines of mainline conservatism. Power can preserve a corrupt system far longer than one would expect.

What we need to learn, then, is not to treat politics like a debating club and to treat it like a war, the way the Left does.

In James Delingpole’s Breitbart piece, he has a section labelled, “We will always remember that we are better than them,” which illuminates the continuing trend on the Right to act like this struggle is a game. He argues that the Right should abstain from the dirty tactics of the Left, such as doxing, disemployment, and no-platforming. If we take Delingpole’s advice, then we have failed to learn from Schmitt and will repeat the demise of the conservative movement. The Left is an existential enemy. We should not treat them like opponents in a game. They must be destroyed.

Let me make this my Cato moment: Sinistra delenda est.

The discussions of monarchy versus democracy are important. There is a great deal of theoretical work to do on the maintenance of political order. I do not deny the significance of any part of the reactionary project. Nevertheless, when it comes to the actual conflict with the Left, none of this is relevant. Politics is war, as Schmitt confirms, and in war the enemy is destroyed or you are. There is neither a leftist way to fight nor a rightist way to fight; there is the way which ends the enemy and the way in which one ends oneself. Until the Right realizes that the Left is the Enemy in the Schmittian sense, it will continue to be the victim of leftist aggression, as they have no problem declaring us as their enemy.

The great work of a reactionary movement in theory, philosophy, art, and culture is work that needs doing and is absolutely necessary to the establishment of a truly humane and sustainable regime. When the existential moment of Schmittian politics arrive, however, there is no reaction versus liberalism but only Friend versus Enemy. This moment is not “the Reset” or the “Second Great Depression” that many on the Right LARP over. It is the moment in an ordinary day when you are thrust into a confrontation with a leftist. It will not be grandiose. You might not notice it at first, until your boss calls you in for a talk. It is the subject of Vox Day’s SJW’s Always Lie. In this conflict, one must be willing to crush the enemy, to in short, ruin the lives of anyone who stands on the side of the Enemy. They will do whatever they can to annihilate you. Their very existence is a threat to yours. They must be destroyed. There can be no pangs of conscience or mercy for the Enemy.

In his book Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder, Nassim Nicholas Taleb makes an interesting point about antifragility. If you place stress on an organic subject, it becomes stronger.  If you do so several times, it becomes progressively stronger; this is one of the principles of weightlifting. If you wish to break an organic subject, you must push it to the point where its inherent antifragility is overcome and regeneration is impossible. This is why Delingpole’s advice is so pernicious; if the Left is merely inconvenienced and annoyed, they will come back stronger than ever. We cannot be “better” than them if we wish to conquer them. We must be willing to destroy them to the point where they cannot recover. In the aftermath of the JournoList scandal, voices on the Right called for certain individuals to become permanently unemployable in journalism. The failure to see this carried out has had untold consequences since then, as Fake News has proliferated in the wake of JournoList.

The great question, “Who Are We,” is ultimately irrelevant in the moment of war, which is the struggle for existence. As Schmitt tells us, all politics is such a struggle, and until we are clear that the Left and all its minions are enemies deserving of destruction, we do not deserve victory. This means no pity , and it means that nothing and no place is off limits for political retribution[1]. It means erasing everything the enemy is and has done. To take one, tiny first step, I grab my soft rubber eraser and reach out for my copy of The Concept of the Political. As the words of my enemy disappear forever, nothing is left but little rubber fragments which, at a breath, disappear forever.

[1] This article, of course, does not advocate the violation of any law, in whatever jurisdiction is applicable to the reader.

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  1. “Schmitt rejects Von Clausewitz’s claim that war is politics by other means, but I believe he rejects it because he asserts the inverse in his understanding of politics: politics is war by other means.”

    I have long argued that logically, according to the reflexive property, that Clausewitz’s claim was able to be inverted. Hence why democratic government is, by definition, formalized anarchy. By politicizing all individuals in a society, it demands war between all members (in theory). The friend/enemy dis-junction is increased in scope, and increased in scale, regulated by an inarticulate and meaningless lexicon broadly referred to as the language of “peaceful transfer of power.”; itself nothing more than an unspoken Geneva convention whose development is as miraculous as it is mischaracterized.

    But of course, like the real Geneva Convention, non-Westerners are not bound by it, and only observe it when it suits them.

    The concept that a Just War is preferable to an Unjust Peace is lost on most, because we are living in an imaginary dialectical, a phantom dichotomy where peace and war are distinguished by means, not intent and outcome.

  2. ”Sinistra delenda est” gives me a very long hmmm. Uncompromising, easy to understand, and yet…I can’t help thinking about another society, near to Europe, but distinct from it, which decided on this course, with grievous consequences.

    By the 10th Century AD Islamic society was a beacon of civilization and tolerance surrounded by barbarism. From what we know of history Cordoba and Toledo in the West and Baghdad in the East welcomed all scholars, of all religions and nations – intellectual ferment, new discoveries, revisions of ancient texts – reason, and not the sword were the currencies there. We know what happened next – in Spain, crusaders from the North and fundamentalist armies from Africa, and in Baghdad the Mongols put paid to this experiment, to the relief of Muslim fundamentalists who worked long and hard, and finally successfully, to inoculate Islam against such tendencies again. The result was a spectacular socio-theological triumph, and a civilizational disaster – a significant part of the human race, Islamic society, was excluded from contributing to the development of the World that was to form. The Ottoman Turks who later took on the leadership of Islamic society were initially militarily successful, but were always considered to be an alien body, and, as Edward Gibbon once wrote, “an Asian host, camping in the ruins of the Classical World”.
    What is my point? It is that the complete destruction of an internal tendency or foe can seem enticing and desirable – but then what? Stagnation, and slow decline?

    Is this a fair analogy? I don’t know, but I think it’s worth considering.

    1. You have a deep and firm grasp of Edward Said-style mythology. I applaud you; very few people outside of a university History department can fit so much nonsense in such a short historical synopsis. Write this up as a book. I will definitely nominate you for a Hugo in Fantasy.

      Or, of course, you could read some actual history.

  3. Tee-hee! Good to see someone following their own advice! Like the Daleks in Dr. Who – “Exterminate! Exterminate!” But, BTW, does simply asking innocent questions also qualify me for your planned destruction?

  4. “As Schmitt tells us, all politics is such a struggle, and until we are clear that the Left and all its minions are enemies deserving of destruction, we do not deserve victory. This means no pity , and it means that nothing and no place is off limits for political retribution[1]. . .

    “[1] This article, of course, does not advocate the violation of any law, in whatever jurisdiction is applicable to the reader.”

    Therein lies the problem with this article. Either nothing is off limits or one should adhere to a code of conduct laid down in law and custom.

    What the author seems not to understand is that there are worse things than loosing an election — like destroying the system that ensures another election.

    Sadly, we live in an age in which good people have come to believe that the ends justify the means. It doesn’t. Truthfulness still matters. Honesty still matters. Playing by the rules still matters.

    1. Elections are bad for your soul.

    2. At least some of the rules in a liberal democracy are created by the left as a trap for their opponents. The rules are meant to be broken by them and selectively enforced to a greater extent against the right.

      Destroying the system that ensures another election is effectively a wager that the group doing so will come out on top of whatever other method of making societal decisions ends up being used (usually some form of combat). Whether this is better or worse depends on who wins the combat.

      The end of subduing an aggressor justifies the means used to do so, as long as one does not wantonly and needlessly escalate the use of force and/or the harming of innocent bystanders.

  5. Gordian,

    This is one of the best things I’ve read here recently (or anywhere else for that matter.) Your style is excellent and your content is even better. The essence of your point couldn’t be more important. The time for games and slap boxing is over. The Left’s positions are inherently illegitimate, and in a healthy society would not be part of acceptable discourse. Recognizing this is what separates the true Rightist from the Cuck.

    This is canon imo and an easy BOTW.

  6. “All other trades are contained in that of war.”
    – Blood Meridian

    I think, according to my pantheistic worldview, that War is one central aspect of the human existance. Our species evolved for waring. We compete, we fight, we kill each other. And if we don’t, if we regulate competition, then its just to harden our stand for the war with a more distant kind of people or nature itself. Also, the Question for who we are does not become irrelevant in war, but rather simple. We are not “them” because they are not us.
    The Left goes more and more crazy every month cause “they” are fundamentaly different from us, they are not wired like normal people that we can define as human in our sense are. They are a different kind of being and they compete with us, waring with other means that we could recognize at first. The Left isn’t about arguments or social issues or any of that bullshit, its about getting rid of the other, even if that means a downfall in their own every being. They need to go.

  7. Arthur Gordian – perhaps you deserve a more snigger-free response. Where am I mythologizing? In my history or in my analysis? I haven’t read a single word by Edward Said, I am not a historian, and I haven’t been to Baghdad….but I know a thing or two about science and about Islamic Spain – not just Toledo, Cordoba and Granada – go to Madina al Zahra, or any of the hundreds of latifundia, farms, irrigation ditches that survive from that period. 10th Century Cordoba was described by a German visitor as “the ornament of the World”, where just one library had half a million books, when the Royal library in Paris had less than a thousand.

    When Alfonso VI of Leon captured Toledo in 1085 the city became a center of pilgrimage for academics from Western Europe, and systematic translations of Greek and Roman classics from arabic to the vulgate took place. It is perhaps no coincidence that the first university was established in Bologna in 1088, followed closely by Oxford in 1096. In the 1140’s Daniel of Morley returned to Oxford after a long stay in Toledo, and at about the same time his fellow-countryman Abelard of Bath wrote, after returning from Toledo: “From the Arabs I have learnt one thing – to lead by reason. I will detract nothing from God, but very carefully listen to the limits of human knowledge. Only when this utterly breaks down, should we refer things to God”.

    Whatever else we can say about Al Andalus, it was a remarkable phenomenon that attracted some of the best minds in Europe. It was also salt in the eyes both to the fundamentalist Crusading knights in the North, and to the fanatic Muslim Almoravids from North Africa. To both it was anathema that Christian, Arab and Jew could sit, in luxury and safety, and freely discuss the mysteries of the Universe, and both planned its destruction. It could have gone either way, but the Christians won, partly because in the later phases of the Reconquista it had become a civil war , between Muslim and Christian Spaniards, where the North Africans were seen as alien.

    Whatever the outcome could have been, Spain was doomed. Never again would it illuminate the Western world. True, its soldiers created a World empire, and the Spanish language is second to Mandarin as the most common language on Earth – but so what? What actual power has it had to date? What is its influence?

    I guess, in a roundabout way, I’ve returned to your text. Why would you want to crush something that actually defines you? Do you really identify with the Almoravid fanatic aching to die for Allah, or the semi-barbaric Ibero-Vandal thug extorting minor Islamic statelets? Or would you rather sit on silk cushions with some erudite guys, by a cool fountain and in the shade, sipping a forbidden drink, listening to songs of long ago and far away sung by a dark-eyed maiden strumming a lute?

    As a parting, Parthian shot, when it comes to myth-making, there is nothing like Spanish tradition. Modern research has shown that the two greatest heros of the Reconquista – Guzman el Bueno and El Cid were probably of North African Muslim origin who changed sides, and religions, when they saw which way the wind was blowing.

    [Ed. Off-topic. Gordian’s time is more valuable than this. First & last warning.]

    1. “Why would you want to crush something that actually defines you? Do you really identify with the Almoravid fanatic aching to die for Allah, or the semi-barbaric Ibero-Vandal thug extorting minor Islamic statelets? Or would you rather sit on silk cushions with some erudite guys, by a cool fountain and in the shade, sipping a forbidden drink, listening to songs of long ago and far away sung by a dark-eyed maiden strumming a lute? ”

      I can’t resist.

      Because a dialectical does not define a thing, but rather allows for the negative to define itself against a positive, it’s a description of a relationship, not a thing(s); hence the ever mounting contemporary insistence that lies of an ever increasing and outrageous voracity be accepted ad infinitum. The truth does not depend on a lie, it exists independently of it’s own accord, though it DOES generate the possibility for it’s negation in the form of falsehood, it does not necessitate it. Conversely, a lie is intrinsically dependent on the Truth to define it, as a negation. Truth must precede falsehood.

      Darkness is not a thing, but rather the absence of light, cold is not a thing, but rather the absence of warmth, a lie is not a thing, but rather the absence of truth.

      The reason one would wish to crush that, as you put it, “which defines you.” is because you are incorrect in your presumption that opposites are definitive of one another, or even that they are opposites. The Truth can annihilate Lies without any adverse impact on it’s own existence or efficacy, Lies cannot claim a likewise power.

      Crush falsehood, wherever it is found. “He will crush your head, and you will bruise his heel.”

      Laudate Dominum

      1. Phileas, I think I realized the one exception to your comment. In one situation, your opposite does define you; when one is the negation, the darkness, the sin, the Devil, then you are defined as the not-good, the not-light, the not-righteousness, the not-God.

        This is perhaps the root of the Left’s monomaniacal obsession with the Dialectical synthesis of Hegel – since they have no substance except as a negation of the Good, they require a gnostic immanantization in order to become some more than a void. Unfortunately for them the gnostic immanantization is a lie and a myth, like all the works of the Enemy.

    2. Sorry, Ed. – did not mean to go off-topic, but Gordian threw me an ad-hominem challenge which I tried to answer respectfully and thoroughly – is that not allowed?

      The problem is, I didn’t even disagree with him, but pleaded caution. He sees himself as Cato – I see him rather as a reverse John Brown urging his followers to attack Harper’s Ferry. Cato urged the destruction of a similar but alien power competing for the same resources as Rome, but Gordian/Cato urges a civil war – are we prepared for that? Do we have even the slightest awareness of the consequences of that?

      My intuition tells me that Gordian’s war, should it come to pass, will leave us yearning for the 1860’s – it will be more like the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648, when Europe took more than a Century to recover from its effects.

      1. You begin with the old “what about me” comment, which is not a legitimate argument, but a solipsistic cry for attention, thus is not permitted. See: http://voxday.blogspot.com/2016/11/still-not-about-you.html

        You continue here with concern trolling.

        Can you challenge the scholarship? Am I misreading Schmitt? Is the modern Left not an existential enemy whose goal is annihilation of the apostates to their gnostic Puritan faith? Is their movement merely a misunderstanding which can be reconciled through rational discussion? When I see actual content, I will reply. This is not a board for trolling. Try the chans or Twitter.

      2. Marcus Montisursinensis January 29, 2017 at 4:49 pm

        Let us repeat the lesson on the Thirty Year’s War.
        It was NOT a war of religion, but a war between France and the Habsburgs (Spain and ustria+Hungary+Bohemia), where France was able for more than two decades to wage the war through Protestant proxies, most notably Sweden.
        For the major part of the war the Pope was Urban VIII, former Nuncio to France and a true French Connection (1623-1644).
        No particular support for the Holy Roman Emperor from Rome during this war. Awkward?
        When France finally deployed its armies in 1635, they had an upper hand and a war between France and Spain was waged for a decade after Westphalia.
        After a series of Italian Wars (1494-1559), which ended in a Habsburg victory, the Thirty Year’s war a success for the French. The decisive battle was the French victory of of Rocroi (1643) in northern France, between the French and the Spanish “Army of Flanders”, consisting of Spaniards, Walloons, Flemings, Germans and Italians.
        Once again: a war of Catholic France against Catholic Habsburgs, the Protestant efforts being financially covered by France.
        The war that left Europe devastated for a century?
        After signing the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, Holland, waging the Eighty Year’s war with Spain for effectively
        50 or 60 years (with some 20+ years of truce) between 1568 and 1648 had enough strength to start a series of Anglo-Dutch wars, only being defeated as a part of a larger Spain-led coalition against France and England. Spain never recovered the defeat of Rocroy, engaging
        several wars against France and losing in each of them. This was the peak of for Louis XIV.
        The Holy Roman Emperors occasionally came to help their Habsburg relatives, although they were busy with Turkey. Then, after the Siege of Vienna in 1683 the victorius Emperor formed a formidable coalition of almost all major countries against France (Habsburg Austrian, Hungarian and Bohemian possessions,
        German duchies and principalities as the allies: Baden, Bavaria, Brandenburg; plus Holland, England & Scotland, Spain, Savoy, Sweden). This War of the Great Alliance was fought between 1688 and 1697 an the French had only minor losses.
        Then came another major war, the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714), which would see the best generals both England and Austria ever had (Marlborough and Eugene of Savoy) fight against France… Then came the wars of Polish and Austrian Succession, the latter ending in 1748, a century after Westphalia.
        Just several years short of the French and Indian War (1754-1763), known in Europe as the Seven Year’s War (1756-1763).
        A lot of military engagement within the century, obviously with economies that paid for that.

    3. Marcus Montisursinensis January 29, 2017 at 5:20 pm

      Surely, recent scientific efforts actually proved the Jew to be a transgender person, while the Arab was a black lesbian and an ancestor both to St. Martin Luther King Jr. and St. Nelson Mandela.
      And I would believe that the establishment of universities in Europe was a result of stealing knowledge from Al Andalus, but I know that those proto-Nazis were illiterate. So I believe the lizard-men examined the Al Andalus papers and by some vicious means transferred the knowledge to Mr. Trump’s ancestors.

  8. This piece certainly appeals to my sentiments but leaves me with a lot of questions.

    What is “the Left”? Who does it include?

    Darren Walker? Definitely.
    Bill de Blasio? No doubt.
    Terry McAuliffe? Well, probably.

    Richard Spencer? Maybe!

    Donald Trump?

    If you can’t answer “who are we”, how do you organise?

    1. @ashv

      Political Organization is largely futile unless it is overtly connected to a deeper moral order. Essentially it goes: Faith, justifies Morality, justifies Politics, justifies War, justifies Peace. If the root morality or faith is broken and we only think in terms of the political and bellicose, we’ve already lost to relativism.

      Moral organization must necessarily preempt Political organization. This essay, to my reading, is an attempt to bridge that gap. Questions of left/right are not dealing with political groups, but essentially moral groups attempting to coalesce into the political realm. This is why Faith is so important to our goals, because at the end of the day the goal is not political, it’s moral and spiritual.

      The question of “who are we?” is essentially moot. When we have to ask that question, we can safely conclude that we aren’t in a position to answer it.

      “But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”- Joshua 24:15

      And that is who I am.

    2. Using Schmitt’s metric, the Left is the group that self-identifies as the enemy of the Right. Schmitt is not concerned with the ideological content of the Left-Right divide in the existential moment of conflict. He argues what we need to focus on is who actually participates in acts of hostility. If John McCain or Lindsay Graham is shooting right, they are left. The questions of ideological purity have to wait until the conflict is over.

  9. Unfortunately the Left and the Right as dialectical opposites need each other and energize each other. For one to win, it has to leave the discourse of Left vs. Right when it has the upper hand, and call itself with a new name after it’s victory, or the enemy will rise from the grave. It has to set up a completely new paradigm with new questions, problems, terminology. Perhaps no less than becoming a religion is required.

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