June 24, 2010

Wars, Spiritual and Material

I'm hyp-mo-tized by the spectacle of a lack of discipline in that most disciplined and hierarchically-friendly of institutions: the military. That a general like McChrystal and his staff could let their hair down around Rolling Stone magazine and diss their civilian superiors, well, it makes you wonder if McChrystal wanted to go down in flames.

Even more ponderous is the fact that we're even still in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's fascinating how resistant we are to the lessons of history - even recent history given the Soviet example in the same country. But then another lesson from history is that wars are infinitely easier to start than to end, which we seem to be demonstrating with fervor.
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Am reading a biography of paleoconservative Russell Kirk who, like the military, had a similar appreciation for discipline & hierarchy and yet whose Sunday mass attendance was spotty. (Should we carve out exceptions for the exceptional?)

Crucial to Kirk was the "moral imagination", loosely defined as the ability to hold two thoughts in one's mind: "Human beings are flawed but at the same time responsible for moral choices, beloved by God, and meant for eternity." [James E. Person in "Russell Kirk: A Critical Biography"] The errors of the last few centuries have attacked one or the other of these precepts. Either man is expendable and not beloved (i.e. Stalin, Hitler, Nietzsche, Marquis de Sade) or man is not flawed but institutions hold him down (Rousseau, hedonists).

3 comments:

Steven Riddle said...

Dear TSO,

Given our current Commander in Chief, is laxness in discipline really any surprise. When you've got this loosey-goosey, let it all hang out, we're here for change kind of admin, you encourage this kind of behavior in the followers. Or, at least, so it seems.

Still, it is more than a little sad, isn't it.

shalom,

Steven

TS said...

Steven, tis sad indeed. I always thought of the military as a culture somewhat immune to the virtues or vices of its civilian leadership, that is as a culture all its own. And one of the tenets is not to speak ill publicly of its civilian leadership.

Steven Riddle said...

Dear TSO,

"And one of the tenets is not to speak ill publicly of its civilian leadership."

I think you're correct: it has been, up until now. Standards can only relax so far before all that was once held sacred is violated. And for that I point straight to the top. It's impossible to remain unmoved when the force that is doing the moving is intent upon your deconstruction if not outright destruction. One must eventually say something.

shalom,

Steven