Saturday, March 17, 2007

ToR 5: War and the Glorious Soldier

Here's Part 4.

A good solid pillage has something in common with a festival; the obvious violence and destruction. The difference lies in what the pillage and the festival produces; the festival is subordinated to the duration of the group, while warfare produces the glorious soldier. The glorious soldier is not exactly an individual, but rather a divine-ish individual, through the wagering of their life; they prove they are capable of risking death, of risking that return to intimacy - and so they become associated with the spirit world, with the divine. The destruction in war is a negation of duration, but the glorious soldier makes this negation of duration durable; that movement is a futility, a naivete. Thus an occasional will to stupidity.

A further problem for the solider is that his spirituality - that association with the divine - is never anything other than utility. The soldier makes people into slaves, into commodities to be bought and sold. Any notion of the sacred here is a false pretense.

So, the slave as object becomes a possible victim of sacrifice. These useful commodities, whose very existence is a degradation of the human order, are surrender to the “baleful intimacy of unfettered violence.” Human sacrifice is the greatest possible challenge to the real order of things and utility; it is also the greatest internal violence.

The development of human sacrifice could only happen hand in hand with the development of an excess of wealth, which needed to be spent in a spectacular way. The military order, once again, subordinates this excess of wealth to utility - that of ever increasing power. Rather than radical expenditure, wealth is used to project violence outside. Human sacrifice, Bataille said, has always been rejected by military kings.

Conquest, then, is contrary to sacrifice. It is a rational and methodical use of wealth to increase power. The group with Imperial ambitions submits to the real order from the beginning; the Empire subordinates itself to an end, and everything around the Empire is subordinated to the Empire. But it is in this way that it is not really true that the Empire is subordinated to the real order — the Empire becomes the real order.

In order to maintain the diversion of violence to the outside, the Empire must develop the law. The law lays out obligatory relations between different people and things. The law mirrors morality, and takes its obligatory force from it, but their connection lies really on the border between the outside and the inside of the Empire.

In this military, rational, calculated world, consciousness deals with, and is measured by, things. This results in a dualism.

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