There’s a part of me that really resonates with that aesthetic of various parts of the “far right” which valourizes bodily strength and combat readiness.
It’s not as if I approve of such things for confirming me in who I am; on the contrary, I have never been particularly fit, and temperamentally I always seek to be mild and irenic.
Still, the draw of them is undeniable, and honestly a bit puzzling. I know many people who show no sympathy with such approaches, so in principle it should be possible for me to feel otherwise. (Some on the right would want to say that I’m being honest with myself and the others aren’t, but that feels a bit question-begging.)
I sometimes try to find a justification for this sense in me by working backwards, constructing a line of argument from something I definitely love (most often the life of the philosopher) to those other views. When I attempt it, though, the line of reasoning never seems that compelling in itself, and the whole procedure strikes me as beside the point.
I was reflecting this morning that perhaps something of the reason for my feelings might be captured in a saying of Nietzsche’s, something along the lines of “Every woman loves a warrior.” In Nietzsche, that line isn’t the point, is instead a sort of analogical minor premise for the sake of something largely unrelated. Still, it has stuck with me since the first time I read it.
Little boys will wrestle and fence with sticks and play at shooting guns, with intense delight. Every woman loves a warrior. At the very least, there’s something inhuman and alien in any really thorough pacifism.
Some Christian pacifists will want to respond by saying that God planted those dreams of violence in our hearts to point us toward the reality of the ultimate battle of spiritual forces. I appreciate that line of thought deeply, and at the same time I can’t help wondering if flesh-and-blood war couldn’t likewise point us beyond itself to that ultimate conflict. The most important fights aren’t the ones fought with fists or weapons or armies, not by a long shot. (No pun intended?) Still, in the great chain of being that stretches from the roughhousing of little children all the way to the conquering plan of theodicean providence, there is, it seems to me, nonetheless a place for the literal sword. Docens manus meas ad prælium, et componens quasi arcum æreum brachia mea.