Monday, November 9, 2009

The hand of Tyr

The only principles that seem to hold any sway anymore qua principles — whether they are held in a quest for power or in an intellectual confusion or in a lusty embrace of falsehood — are ones that have been articulated as ideals relatively recently in the West and are alien to its spirit: egalitarianism and pragmatism. Each of them has proved in one way or the other to be incompatible with the traditional culture of the West: egalitarianism has proved itself the enemy of justice and the supreme value and dignity of the individual; pragmatism has proved itself the enemy of honor, of far-sighted loyalty to principle, and of adherence to goodness. The West is being destroyed by Westerners who no longer love, indeed have come to hate, their achingly beautiful creations.

I am not speaking of a minority of Westerners, either. The ubiquity of rock anti-music savagery is ample evidence of that. That not one father in a thousand can affect the immodesty of his daughter's dress at the beach is more. That chastity's only role in modern society is as a sanctimonious, self-serving tool to embarrass and destroy one's political foes is yet more. And that what passes for justice is driven by passion (as in the first Simpson trial, the McVeigh trial, and most recently the British-nanny trial) should count as final proof.

Politically, Westerners have accepted completely and utterly the notion that the state is not merely an organization for defending them from predator nations — which is what the state has claimed to be whenever its legitimacy has been called into question. Rather, Westerners have accepted the notion that the state should be a predator nation and that financing its predations, getting in on its predations, and benefiting from its predations, especially against one's neighbors, is smart. That is, Westerners have allowed a notion of "the practical" to defeat their loyalty to principle.

Even in our mythology, we see the gods forever favoring "practical" solutions rather than remaining true to their ideals. In one of their worst missteps, they attempt to bind the Fenris wolf with a cord spun with magic. Fenrir, suspecting treachery and knowing full well that the gods are lying when they promise they will release him if he is unable to break the cord, demands that someone put a hand in his mouth during his attempt to break the cord. Only Tyr, the god of war, has courage enough to accede to the wolf's demand, but Fenrir insists that it be not Tyr's left hand, but his sword hand. The cord holds, and Tyr's hand is snapped off.

On Ragnarok, Fenrir will finally break the cord and join the battle against the gods. Tyr's hand, however, will still be gone, and he will be defeated and killed precisely because he cannot fight as effectively left-handed.

Justice is not just a quaint notion for us; once we place it in the mouth of Fenris tyranny, whatever temporary advantage we enjoy will be ... temporary. We cannot purchase our survival with it, because without it, it is not we who survive, but some degraded corruption of ourselves.
--the Last Ditch

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