The Russian Martial Art: The Spirit of an Officer during the Materialistic Epoch (Part III)

Author: E. Messner

An officer who became a citizen was deprived of his traditional privileges: taking no part in the political life of the country, never use his suffrage. These privileges allowed and entrusted him with a duty to guard the main national interests not stooping to participating in struggles between temporary, private or antinational interests. That’s why the officer could take upon oneself a part of an arbiter when the struggle between parties became acute and the main state laws were endangered or national unity was at risk. This coincides with principles of the Russian martial art.

Political parties did everything in their power to reduce the part the officers played in the state as it seemed to them that this could lead to Bonapartism and Mac-Mahonism. The most effective way was to give the officers suffrages. If they vote they are drawn into party membership and can’t be arbiters among them anymore.

Though time puts everything to their places and last years the officers in Argentina, Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia, Siam, Laos, South Korea and some other countries decided to take power in their hands or support the state with their authority.

Some people are tired of instability of authorities and think that it is possible to stop party strife with military forces. In June 1960 “International Congress of Cultural Freedom” met in Berlin and discussed topic: “The Intellectuals and the Servicemen in the Modern State”. There were such speakers as Colombian diplomat G. Arsinjegas, American sociology professor M. Berger, Pakistani commissar Brohi. At the meeting was accepted resolution about compatibility of the military authority and principles of democracy. “Such government” – was said in the resolution, – “should lead to social reforms that people need, abolition of totalitarian methods and establishment of parliamentary democracy that actually works”. The notions of “democracy”, “working parliament”, “totalitarian methods”, “social reforms that the people need” are disputable. But it is indisputable and reasonable that sometimes military authorities should support the state and sometimes the state needs this support.

There is a famous utterance of Cavour: “Sometimes bayonets are useful but you can never sit on them”. The only thing Clavour was wrong about is that the authority that seeks support in military forces sits on their bayonets. It stands on moral standards, on the officers’ loyalty to an idea of the state. After the officer is no longer an isolated being he became close to other civil groups but he remained an exemplary citizen who realizes his duty to the state and only to the state but not to some of its parties or groups. This is also part of the Russian martial art policy.

Ethical basis of the officer’s spirit

On the cannons of Frederick the Great was written “Ultim ratio regis” – the last reason of the kings in international arguments. The last reason of the state’s idea was and always will be the officers. But not praetorians who overthrow and exalt rulers on their whim; not adventurers who try to use their regiment or just a battalion to perform a coup to turn everything to their profit; and not politico officers who are at the disposal of some party that crave for power.

According to the Russian martial art only this king of officers can stand up for the country in contemporary revolutionary conditions. They are full of majestic awareness and chivalrous ethics. This is the image of officer-knight: “…there was no falsehood in him. He was modest, benevolent, always ready to help; his intentions were always serious but at the same time he was jovial; he wasn’t selfish but was a good friend and loved people. His mind and soul were open to everything good and beautiful. He absorbed the heritage of many generations of soldiers; being an inspired soldier he was at the same time a bearer of nobility in the true sense of this word, he was a man and a Christian” (F. Mannstein, “The Victories we Lost”).

There was time when everything or at least many things favored the creation of a knighthood in officers. Today if not everything but still many things prevent this: the Global Revolution levels everyone to average or below the average levels, tries to annihilate the spirit of the people who belong to high level. That’s why cultivation of chivalry that used to be easy and natural in the past requires great efforts from every knight as he constantly has to improve himself. To keep the chivalry we need to conceal it as one’s superiority irritates masses. That’s why it is better to use the knighthood properly without showing it off. “More to be than to appear” was the motto of the officers of the general staff. This was also the basis of the Russian martial art. “To be a knight wearing no signs of chivalrous title”, – is the motto of modern officers.

This is one of the difficulties of being an officer today. At the times when a sword was almost the only weapon Aleksandr Suvorov could proclaim the principle: “Nobility wins”. Nowadays when an idea can serve as a powerful weapon, the officer can’t neglect nobility on his way to the victory. If even such a thorough doctrine as the Christian one couldn’t prevent the Christian spirit from deviation, sure the chivalrous spirit can’t be perfect: no matter how high or low the moral level of the given nation is, the knight of this nation should stay at higher moral level than the best groups or classes of the nation.

In ancient times Platon used to say: “There are more beautiful types of recklessnesses than wisdom”. No doubts that for knights honour is the most beautiful chivalrous recklessness.

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