Blood, Heroism, Martyrdom
We live in societies where violence, even strife of any kind, is opposed in principle.
And yet, we are the sons of a past that saw blood and martyrdom as a necessary, inescapable necessity that would anticipate and justify greatness.
The ritual spilling of blood used to be a fundamental significance-bearing moment not only of collective history, but in an individual’s life as well.
Blood blessed important moments of life, and the spilling of one’s own blood was not an accessory in the ritual, but often a key moment, whose absence could undermine its value.
Fencing duels as traditionally carried out in the university circles run by the Burschenschaften in German countries (known as Mensur), are deemed incomplete if the participants end the fight without bloody faces. In fact, participants are intentionally provided with only minimal facial protection, and the bloody cuts are purposely left untreated so as to evolve into recognizable (and honourable) scars. But this is one of the few surviving rituals, and is only limited to the German-speaking countries, mostly.
Blood was also fundamental for female identity, and it is not by chance that virginity was considered lost only through a small blood loss during the first penetration; in fact, the loss of virginity was synonymous with the related blood loss that in some regions of southern Italy, the bloody beddings were publicly exposed after the first night of marriage, so as to prove to the community that intercourse had successfully taken place – thus validating the husband’s virility and establishing the girl’s transition to womanhood and her transition to her role of wife.
These are just some examples of the past significance of blood and ritual bloodletting in our societies, but I am sure that any reader can come up with examples of our collective squeamish attitudes towards violence and blood. It is true that some forms of ritual violence are coming back (e.g. through MMA’s popularity, but this is a dimension that is still mostly alien to most men in their own lives). We have lost any acceptance of violence as an immanent event in life, and in doing so we have become unable and/or unwilling to contemplate military action or even political militancy within our societies.
In addition to that, external threats are handled mostly by so-called standing armies, whereupon professional soldiers fight in far away lands in the name of foreign policies conceived by amoral politicians (who hardly ever persist in their seat for more than a few years), and are supplied by military-industrial complexes devoted more to the eternal continuation of military operations for the sake of profit than to achieving swift victory.
It is a fact that standing armies are nothing but state-sponsored mercenary militias, for the highest standard they are held to is mere citizenship and the loyalty that should derive from that. Yet, almost all those responsible for leading our countries to destruction and oblivion are natural citizens of said countries. Treachery more than enemy aggression is leading us towards ruin – so why should we trust professional soldiers to be any different? Let alone the fact that countries like France, Germany, and the UK are seeing their military forces increasingly composed of allogenic foreigners.
Here, I have to quote the eternal Machiavelli:
I say, therefore, that the arms with which a prince defends his state are either his own, or they are mercenaries, auxiliaries, or mixed. Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous; and if one holds his state based on these arms, he will stand neither firm nor safe; for they are disunited, ambitious and without discipline, unfaithful, valiant before friends, cowardly before enemies; they have neither the fear of God nor fidelity to men[…]. The fact is, they have no other attraction or reason for keeping the field than a trifle of stipend, which is not sufficient to make them willing to die for you.
Machiavelli brilliantly describes free-lances, and he famously decries in the same chapter how Italy’s ruin was caused by its peninsular states’ reliance on mercenaries rather than national militias.
To that I would add that true national liberation, independence, irredentism etc. are only ever possibly achieved by a people’s armies, i.e. armies staffed by citizen-soldiers (or subject-warriors) devout to the fatherland and its cause, to the nation in its mystical yet self-explaining reason and compel/impel dichotomy. Furthermore, only the frenzy for national liberation typical of people’s armies enables a hero-worship to emerge and martyrdom to appear as a concrete and empyreal condition for the individual to strive towards.
Most of “our” soldiers deployed all over the world have no conception of heroism beyond a faint celebration of past deeds1, let alone martyrdom.
Hence, I am sorry to shatter the hopes of some who have so far trusted in the military to take matters into their own hands before the collapse of the nation. This is never going to happen save for some countries with very specific characteristics and historical backgrounds. Standing armies will only ever act when the State shall curtail their salaries, and before that happens, the majority of Western militaries’s manpower will already be composed of “new Germans”, “new Frenchmen”, “new Britons”.
But going back to the earlier point, the problem is that we do not challenge our rivals to duels anymore, we do not bare-knuckle box anymore, we do not fence anymore. Without having experienced the peculiar adrenaline rush typical of a fight, without having felt the twitching of one’s excited muscles under the skin, the wild instinct of aggression, and without having fanatically embraced and basked into one’s own blood’s iron taste – no organic self-defence is possible, and thus no rejuvenation of the individual and the community. It is in a sense what the cult film and book Fight Club explores, where the concept of blood as “purification” is also present, among others. The unnamed protagonist, the archetype of the modern man, living an entirely meaningless life of servitude and materialist worship of capitalism, joins the secretive club, where a fanatical and ecstatic form of boxing is practiced amongst participants. Concepts such as victory or defeat are not only ignored, but their meaning is implicitly destroyed in so far as fighting is not the means to something, but the end in itself.
Many might rewatch the fight scenes of the film and dismiss the attention given to the injuries and to the bleeding, but that is not a fetishisation just meant to make squeamish viewers cringe, it is much more: blood is the physical evidence of a process of self-assertion and purification2 from modernity. And this is all required and justified because of the deep and all-encompassing decadence of the modern world, which offers no possibilities of heroism, and thus of martyrdom. Tyler Durden exemplifies this, by saying:
We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives.
For those who have read Julius Evola’s chapter “The Greater and the Lesser Holy War” as part of Revolt Against The Modern World, here the similarities appear evident. In that chapter, the author appropriates the mahometan division of holy war between “greater” and “lesser”, with the lesser holy war meaning the exterior one, done by waging war on the infidels, less important than the greater holy war, the interior war. This interior, spiritual, greater holy war assumes the meaning attributed to it by the Sufis, amongst others. Indeed, in the neophyte’s interiority an inner war is unleashed between a greaer and a lesser principle, hence going back to the theme of an inner commanding and obeying as part of the master-disciple dichotomy.
To conclude, a society where “male spaces” or participation in “fightclubs” are barely tolerated or even forbidden is consequently a society where no hero-worship can emerge in the first place, let alone being widely accepted as male virtue, possibly blossoming into the idea of the martyr under certain conditions.
Without knowing the taste of blood, we devolve into de facto eunuchs without any sense of self-sacrifice and heroism.
1If that is even tolerated/allowed in the first place (see:https://news.sky.com/story/nazi-memorabilia-find-deepens-far-right-fears-in-german-army-10868519)
2Blood is a puryfing element in Christianity as well, specifically Christ’s blood.
“To Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood.”(Revelation 1:5) – Hence, it is by Christ’s blood and blood-shedding that our sins are washed away.