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527. The wanderer (V)

If man were not driven by greed and fear there would be no war; if man were logical and rational he would see that cooperation is the best strategy. Man being what he is, we must have war: we must use war to transmute man from what he is today into something higher. In non-dualist terms, there is no division between peace and war: peace is merely preparation for war—and all wars are really won in the peace, won in the preparations that are undertaken to wage the next war. Those who refuse to accept this dynamic condemn us to remain mired at a lower level, mired in the most elementary greed and fear. Those who are prepared to use war as a creative instrument to advance man—to step over man—truly understand what war is about.

In certain periods, war has been a relatively bloodless occupation. When medieval armour reached its most highly developed point knights were hardly ever killed in battle. The two metalled armies would struggle until one side was exhausted, until they could no longer lift their swords. War is coercion through violence, if you are too tired to lift your armoured body then you can be easily coerced. Your enemies had no interest in your death because you would make a fine hostage for a princely ransom. The camp followers were less fortunate: unlike the knights, they often had their throats slit—for if they were not killed they would turn brigand and prey on the peasantry.

This period did not last: men learned to pull the heavily-armoured knights off their horses—get them on the ground and they cannot move. Then, gunpowder; as with many technologies it was a democratising force—and when war became more democratic it became more general and bloody. When Western societies became maximally democratic in the early 20th century war became its most bloody: World War I and World War II—and then the democratic atom bomb, total annihilation on offer.

Yet there is no reason that change in technology could not force us back to a more elitist dynamic, just as armour begat the knight who was rarely killed in combat—and who would have thought it absurd to burn a whole town to the ground in an act of democratic “total war”. Chivalry is only absurd when the technical foundations of a society make it irrational to be courtly—Marx was wrong, technology is not inherently democratising.

When Russia attacked the Ukraine among her first acts was to pull down and deface the government websites. The Redditor smugly says: “Aschsually, that’s not much more than pulling down a poster in a corridor. Nothing technically impressive, it doesn’t hit any fundamental systems.” Except in war you seek to depose a state’s control over territory: the government’s websites are not “nothing”; in Britain there is even a joke that we are governed by .gov: you go to .gov to find out about pensions, schools, and taxes—taxes above all. The first Ukrainian territory Russia took was her mental territory—war in the noosphere.

Aesop reported millennia ago that the trumpeter can be put to death with the soldier, for without the trumpeter there is no army—without the .ua websites there is no Ukrainian state. To deprive the state of its mental link with its citizens is the first step in that state’s dissolution; a state is defined as an entity that has a monopoly of coercion over a territory—today, this territory includes the mind-net interface. Delete a person’s social media accounts and they will feel as if you have amputated a limb, for those accounts are extensions of themselves that they use to exert their will across the world—without them they are noospheric paraplegics. So now war moves into a new field; and, if we are determined, we will use it to again purify this species and to step over man to a state governed by minimal greed and fear.


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1 Comment

Feb 27, 2022

As always an interesting essay. I would think the hallmark vices of this age are pride and envy though. After all, it's perfectly legitimate to fear something out there that wants you dead or enslaved. God knows there's enough of that around. And we all can be accused of over-weaning pride since we (meaning we moderns) view the past generations as either stupid or evil; and we have zero humility towards divine or cosmic order. Greed is merely a byproduct, as it were, of the over-arching hubris, like the Shard – this alien object – just sitting there as an insult to all the schlubs, like Wren, who created grandeur on a human scale.

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