Don’t forget the Thespians

The Battle of ThermopylaeMan, to the extent that he wishes to live in a society, cannot be free in isolation. The modern Western concept of the free individual is based on an oxymoron. An individual can be free alone but only when he is genuinely alone. I suspect it is no coincidence that the ideal of “individualism” is espoused most strongly in areas that were recently settled by solitary pioneers. The freedom of a pioneer certainly is a form of freedom in the modern sense of the word, which is a far cry from its original meaning, but I suspect it is a freedom that most people, even those who vehemently defend their love of it, wouldn’t actually want in practice. To the extent that a person argues for a concept in theory that they would not actually support in practice, they are a hypocrite. In serious matters, hypocrisy can be dangerous.

So, leaving aside Captain Jack Sparrow and other sociopaths, a person’s freedom is tied to his culture. He is free to the extent that he is able to participate in that culture. He is free to the extent that he is considered and he considers himself to have a place in that culture. As Aristotle rightly said, “Man is by nature a political animal.”

It is thus in the rational self-interest of a person to fight for the ideals and values of his culture. Well, I suppose it has only been a matter of time before the film 300 somehow found its way onto this blog. The film divides its audience into those who take joy and inspiration from its tale of valiant heroes fighting to defend their culture and those who see it as a malignant promotion of the dangerous and prejudiced “Clash of Civilisations” theory. Those who believe the “Clash of Civilisations” theory to be wrong also seem to adhere to the oxymoronic concept of modern individualism. Those who appreciate the true nature of freedom cannot help but applaud any portrayal of people willing to fight for that ideal. (The film is also stylistically fantastic – if you like Frank Miller’s style as much as I do.)

However, the film also poses a difficult question. Clearly, although it is in a person’s self-interest to fight for his culture, such fighting may well result in his death. From the point of view of the society as a whole this is a price worth paying. If the members of a culture are not willing to die for that culture then the culture will be lost anyway. But from the point of view of the individual, some form of life, even life under a foreign and oppressive culture, may be preferable to death. Can a dead man be said to be free at all, in either the modern or the ancient sense? If not, what does it mean to die for an ideal in the modern world?

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Published in: on May 18, 2007 at 12:00 am  Comments (2)  

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  1. The question of whether it’s worth dying for our culture is a difficult one to answer in this phase of our history. As a collective entity I don’t think the objective form of our culture is worth dying for. Its values have become so tainted and distorted with alien concepts and hollow materialism that I fail to identify with any emotion but disdain for modern Britain as it actually _is_. Such an attitude clearly didn’t exist en masse (as I imagine it does now) prior to the Second World War if you consider the cultural and tribal unity that that conflict brought out in our people. Soon after that war this unity collapsed.However there are strands of our true culture lying hidden, like the shards of Narsil, in rare and esoteric outcrops of our society and landscape. When we identify with these strands in a heartfelt, subjective way we make a ‘Romantic’ reconnection with the foundations and the long surviving features of our culture. These elements of ‘true’ or ‘integral’ culture are those worth fighting for.We are already in a situation in which our freedom to connect with the elements of our natural integral culture is being threatened, and it is in the Radical Traditionalist movement that one finds those who take a stand against such threats through their personal actions, expressions and philosophies. Were such a threat ever to occur in a violent context, I feel that this would be a good reason to reawaken another near-dormant aspect of our ancient culture; the warrior instinct. If such a situation came about in which the question of whether to take up a purposeful struggle, with one’s life being one of the stakes gambled, or whether to accept a repressive situation and attempt to hold on to even more tenuous strands of culture, the decision would be down to personal choice. The choice to fight is the choice to exercise freedom to its fullest extent. By default one is also fighting _for_ freedom by choosing to do this.The ideas of rebellion expressed through _V for Vendetta_ and _Pan’s Labyrinth_ also deal with such questions quite well, especially if you consider the way V’s freedom is not only practiced through his fighting but also through his ‘forbidden’ aesthetic expressions as represented by the contents of his home.

  2. Many good points here, as so often is the case in the Cold Hut! :-)In his previous comment, Afagddu already revelead the reason why modern liberal society as it currently is, isn’t much worth fighting for. It has already planted and watered well the seeds of its eventual downfall: it lacks any authentic, unifying communal beliefs and ethos (it is noteworthy, and should speak volumes to anyone not completely brainwashed by multicultural propaganda, that Greek word ethos, “creed”, and ethnos, “folk”, go back to the same root). As Alain de Benoist once noted, on the one hand {the modern liberal society] views communal life as nonessential, while on the other, it remains impotent to envision any belief – unless this belief is reducible to economic conduct. This is really a no-win combination!


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