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Friday, March 19, 2021

Walsh: Why Men Fight When All Is Lost?

History is full of battles in which small groups take a desperate stand against large armies, refusing to surrender in face of great odds, and often fighting to the last man. What was the motivation of the men who fought in these battles? In his book Last Stands: Why Men Fight When All Is Lost, Michael Walsh writes about such battles, and he connects the motivation of the men who fought, knowing full well that they are going to die fighting, to the premodern conceptions of masculinity and heroism. Here are three excerpts from Walsh’s Introduction to his book: 

“The sexes are different. A country whose women lose their virtue and whose men lose their nerve—the Soviet Union is the most recent example of this historical truth—soon vanishes into history. When every man is a petitioner, a lackey, or a slave, and every woman a whore, that country is finished. A land of “strong” (I.e., in defiance of previous social norms with no immediate consequences, or even opposition) women and weak men is a dead country.”

“Iconoclasm is a luxury in which only stable societies can indulge; once it becomes institutionalized, it turns into a battering ram wielded by a resentful minority against the larger, historically based, cultural entity toward which its animus is directed. To put it in Hegelian Marxist terms: the antithesis has superseded the thesis, thus negating the need for a synthesis. This is the goal of all “progressivism.””

“Therefore, what is heroism? What are its moral components? Is it altruism, love, self-sacrifice. What are its amoral components—fear of cowardice, lust for glory, pride? Why was it once celebrated, and now often dismissed as anachronistic at best, foolish and vainglorious at its worst?”

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