Sacred War's Essence

beyond Inherent Duty towards Race & Fatherland

(from "Metaphysics of War")




[...] Those who regard the Crusades, with indignation, as among the most extravagant episodes of the 'dark' Middle Ages, have not even the slightest suspicion that what they call 'religious fanaticism' was the visible sign of the presence and effectiveness of a sensitivity and decisiveness, the absence of which is more characteristic of true barbarism. In fact, the man of the Crusades was able to rise, to fight and to die for a purpose which, in its essence, was supra-political and supra-human, and to serve on a front defined no longer by what is particularistic, but rather by what is universal. This remains a value, an unshakeable point of reference.

Naturally, this must not be misunderstood to mean that the transcendent motive may be used as an excuse for the warrior to become indifferent, to forget the duties inherent in his belonging to a race and to a fatherland. This is not at all our point, which concerns rather the essentially deeply disparate meanings according to which actions and sacrifices can be experienced, despite the fact that, from the external point of view, they may be absolutely the same. There is a radical difference between the one who engages in warfare simply as such, and the one who simultaneously engages in 'sacred war' and finds in it a higher experience, both desired and desirable for the spirit.

We must add that, although this difference is primarily an interior one, nevertheless, because the powers of interiority are able to find expression also in exteriority, effects derive from it also on the exterior plane, specifically in the following respects:

First of all, in an 'indomitability' of the heroic impulse: the one who experiences heroism spiritually is pervaded with a metaphysical tension, an impetus, whose object is 'infinite', and which, therefore, will carry him perpetually forward, beyond the capacity of one who fights from necessity, fights as a trade, or is spurred by natural instincts or external suggestion.

Secondly, the one who fights according to the sense of 'sacred war' is spontaneously beyond every particularism and exists in a spiritual climate which, at any given moment, may very well give rise and life to a supra-national unity of action. This is precisely what occurred in the Crusades when Princes and Dukes of every land gathered in the heroic and sacred enterprise, regardless of their particular utilitarian interests or political divisions, bringing about for the first time a great European unity, true to the common civilization and to the very principle of the Sacred Roman Empire.

Now, in this respect as well, if we are able to leave aside the 'integument', if we are able to isolate the essential from the contingent, we will find an element whose precious value is not restricted to any particular historical period. To succeed in referring heroic action also to an 'ascetic' plane, and in justifying the former according to the latter, is to clear the road towards a possible new unity of civilization, to remove every antagonism conditioned by matter, to prepare the environment for great distances and for great fronts, and, therefore, to adapt the outer purposes of action gradually to its new spiritual meaning, when it is no longer a land and the temporal ambitions of a land for which one fights, but a superior principle of civilization, a foreshadowing of what, even though itself metaphysical, moves ever forward, beyond every limit, beyond every danger, beyond every destruction.



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