Monday, September 22, 2008

Upon What Foundation?

Heathenism favors the middle zones. It is what is hashed out in the middle between extremes which is to be valued. This follows the value of hof, or moderation. This means every one of us is called out into that confrontation zone or arena in the midst of Pragmatism and Principles to hash out and wrestle with their balance. If we are untrue to either side, we may be straying from the balance that our heathenism advises.

It may be true that the purely pragmatic have the advantage in this world built largely now upon Loki's trickery and Gullveig's greed (and thus hardly resembling Midgard at all), but if we capitulate to this pure pragmatism, we build a world of Machiavellian realpolitik where cynical realism rules the day, and such capitulation is neither honorable nor warrior-like, and ill befits a freeman. The struggle of a heathen warrior is to demonstrate that principles can have their place in pragmatism, no?

This impinges upon the question of Wealth versus Illth. If we build prosperity upon the wrong foundations, what stability can it hold? And will the structure be able to hold our soul even if it can feed our body? Will a soulless home hold?

Of course we want prosperity! Heathenism would never deny us this. But at what cost and with what methods? It seems sometimes we approach things all the wrong way, building upon foundations of ill, and then do not understand when things come tumbling down.

While such a statement has a particularly unfortunate resonance with the present state of the economy, we can also counter by arguing that in a society dominated by giants, we, the common people, are often tied between a rock and a hard place. As individuals, we have no control over how wealth is generated as a whole, and we're just trying to make our way and do our best, and we can't be naive goody-goods refusing to accept advantage because our hands might be dirty ... We're heathens, after all, we worship a God of Fertility (amongst others), and there's something holy about hands covered with Earth! You have to get your hands dirty to farm, and in a world of scoundrels, sometimes the choice of being entirely pure is not a viable option, but one has to choose what level of compromise one wants to make with scoundrelry. But then, our Principles re-emerge from the midst of this Pragmatism, and we have to ask, what level of compromise can one make and still maintain one's integrity? We may not be able to get through life pristine and pure, but how far into the muck and mire do we go?

Yet then again, round and round in our little debate, our series of holy questions, we may rejoind that purity is only an option for the privileged in an imperfect world that we didn't make, and where the games are played by rules we had no part in making. What other choice do we, the common people, have in this mess but to get messy?


Isn't that what distinguishes a freeman from a thrall? The willingness to fight? I don't mean to put it so bluntly, but the total unwillingness to consider a martial option is hardly befitting a freeman. Oh, we'll consider the martial option so long as it is an imperially-authorized venture into some country across the ocean whose people have skins that aren't white, all the time trying to justify it as somehow related to "fighting for our freedoms", but when it comes back down to the streets, to the workplaces, to the rules invoked in courtrooms, to the mis/representatives passing law that has no connection to our consent, what fight is there? And no, I'm not suggesting that the only degree of the martial option open is violence or open warfare, but some kind of challenge, some willingness to look reality in the eye and say, I'm going to fight you if you step over my rights. I know, I know, we're all supposed to "accept reality", and some might try to smuggle this in as somehow compatible with our heathenish pragmatism, but I don't think so. When we plan to campaign, we must realistically assess all of the obstacles and options, and know when and where it is wise and when it is foolhardy to engage, but at least we are then campaigning and engaging!! I'm not talking illegalism and vigilanteism. I'm talking a little jealousy of our rights and a little bite in the defense of them!

I don't think what I'm saying here is particularly controversial either from the perspective of the ancient Germani, nor from the patriotic perspective of our American founding-fathers.

So ... we'll get to the Wealth versus Illth question, but before we do, it has been necessary to address whether it is reasonable to critique the foundation of wealth, and ask whether it strikes a fair balance between Pragmatism and Principles. If it is not reasonable, we will not be able to proceed far at all. I hope I have demonstrated that it is indeed reasonable and necessary, and if we can begin from those premises, then we can go on to ask some penetrating questions about the foundations of our prosperity, and how we might build a structure that will support our wealth and not our illth, in a way good for us, our families, and the earth around us. Not a perfect structure, but a good one.


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