Standing firm is the price of civilisation. Are we still ready to pay it?

Reading some reactions to events in Paris, I’m no longer certain that western values would survive another long war

“…This becomes even more true when, as Sassoon did, you become a combat infantryman. One of the more troubling aspects of war, for those at the sharp end, is the knowledge that there may be occasions when either you personally — or your unit — are expected to take a hit for the team. That is, whether as ‘point’ in a patrol, or as the rearguard covering a retreat, or as the vital flank which must be held at all costs, you may be required to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to prevent what would otherwise be even greater losses among your comrades.

You generally do this not because you like it, let alone because you subscribe to the old lie dulce et decorum est pro patria mori, but because you know that your comrades would do just the same for you. And also because — as fighting men have appreciated through most of history from the Roman testudo and the Anglo-Saxon shield wall to the squares at Albuera and the foxholes of Bastogne — you’re only as strong as your weakest link. If one of you caves, you all die — so it’s just as well, really, that even (or especially) in free nations with relatively lax military discipline, men fear cowardice more than they fear death. Otherwise western civilisation could never have been successfully created or defended.

Do we still understand it now, though? Having read some of the reactions in some sections of the media to the recent events in Paris, I’m not altogether sure that we do. The excuses offered sound superficially plausible — ‘You can’t shout fire in a crowded theatre’, ‘needless provocation’ etc. — but strip away the rhetoric, and the irrelevant invocations of ‘the spectre of the far right’ and ‘Gaza’ — they all boil down to the same thing: ‘Please. Not me. I don’t want to die.’

  • truepeers

    It’s not just that people today fail to understand that freedom isn’t free (that freedom grows from adherence to rules, to both tacit and explicit shared understandings that open up degrees of shared freedom) but that civilisation isn’t and can’t be totally civilised. It is the Utopian dream that it could be that is the problem today (and those who suffer the Utopianism don’t see their own hypocrisy when they turn barbarically on those they deem to be “haters”).

    If the civilised man refuses to take his own side in a fight, then sooner or later he will be taken advantage of. The barbarian and the savage will come to the fore and the only way you can stop that is not by renouncing once and for all your own barbarian and savage past (it’s still in each and everyone of us whether we recognise it or not) but only by suspending it in the name of acting civilised with the understanding you might have to return to it one day in order to treat the savage and the barbarian in the only language they know.

  • “you’re only as strong as your weakest link. If one of you caves, you all die” – oh so true.

  • Dana Garcia

    Quarantine them to dar al-Islam and don’t send them any internets that might irritate their tender sensitivities. They have quite a bit of real estate.

    • WalterBannon

      the Daleks have the answer

  • cmh

    i refuse to be called western anymore. i refuse to be lumped in with european ideals anymore. in my ‘new’ world i will call the so called western values european and the north american values i will call north american. or…have i got it backwards and should say that north america has western values and europe has european values? Anyway, i cannot identify with europe anymore. i am 4th generation north american.

  • WalterBannon

    western values were abandoned by the west a while ago, when the self described “progressives” and so-called “liberals” took over the social agenda

    the only thing that will save the west is civil war and the complete destruction of both the progressives and Islam