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265. Inner truth (VI)

You decide to be a mountaineer, so you go to your local climbing wall to start your lessons. A staff member takes you over to the wall, as you walk he turns to you and says: “Yes, you’ll be taught by Dave. He’s a man who makes a lot of compromises in his climbing. You’ll enjoy it. Life is about give and take after all. Ha. Ha.” Nobody would ever say this, except as a sadistic joke, because when you decide to climb the last thing you want from a partner on the mountain is a man who compromises. When it comes to knots, ropes, and crampons what you want is a man who makes no compromises. “You know, I was tying you onto the safety line and I figured, ‘Eh, close enough.’” This is not the attitude you want, and it is not the attitude anybody who undertakes a serious enterprise—an existential enterprise—takes to life.

When we say a man is “compromised” it is not a compliment—it goes along with the expression “horse trader”, someone underhanded who always has “a deal” in mind; usually to your disadvantage. The nuclear reactor core is compromised—a bad situation. His immune system is compromised—a bad situation. By contrast, we hope to meet a man with integrity—a whole man, not a man split into fragments by compromise. Yet, strangely enough, a popular idea has arisen that compromise is a fine trait; a morally praiseworthy trait—a way to stop bad things happening, particularly in politics.

The attitude itself goes back to the rise of the liberal middle class, the class of traders: liberal utopianism holds that once the aristocrats and priests are removed reason and free trade will reign—and these activities rely on exchange and compromise. The libertarian ideal is non-coerced property exchange; a lovely idea, if only everyone were a middle-class property-owning Anglo-Saxon male the world would indeed be ruled as England once was—except not everyone is that; for the qualities that make a rationally-cooperating Englishman do not even extend to France or Poland. Since liberals ignore particularities, they imagine everyone can be a trader just like them.

You cannot negotiate with death, it will come for you: your date is marked, it is just obscure to you now. Liberal rationalists do not think there is more to life than what reason shows, so death terrifies them; they push it away at every opportunity. This is why they love compromises; things that do not compromise remind them of death, the great non-compromiser, and so the liberal sees integrity as “evil”: the integral person is like death. “He makes no compromises in his work!” To do this is to be like a god, you refuse to submit to the lower ape-like instinct to scratch backs; but people will hate you: “He’s a hard ass! A bastard! A cold bastard! Cruel! Lighten up! Have a laugh!”

Never lighten up. Mountaineers, pilots, and parachutists make no compromises because their activities bring them right up before death; they face it, know it will not negotiate, and so perform with maximum integrity. Funnily enough, unlike the nice liberal compromiser, these men receive almost awesome respect: there is no need to negotiate when you are flawless every time, the doors just open automatically—little need to butter people up with sweet talk and “cultivate your network”.

As it turns out, the political compromise was never what the liberals thought it was. Etymologically, “compromise” originally meant to accept an arbitrated decision—it was never two men doing a deal, there was always a third. And who was the third man? The king, the warrior-priest steeped in war and God and death who adjudicates the deal: you only get a real compromise when there is a man with complete integrity to oversee the procedure, a man who faces death. Of course, the liberals killed the king and God, and so all their deals and compromises are shoddy and dishonest.


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