Cultures of honor will always be cultures of shame.


To put words into the dead mouth of Aristotle, Nihilism is an infinite regress, no, the infinite regress.


The principal concern of the first aristocrats – wherever on earth they arose – and not merely “the first” but virtually all aristocrats throughout the whole of human history, was honor, specifically, the distinction of being lionized for who they were ancestrally and also for the great deeds that they and their forebearers did. Always toward other aristocrats did they seek this acknowledgment. The opinion of lower ranks – especially those of the common man – was of no consequence. The aristocrat’s greatest fear (had he any) was that he would somehow lose face and thus be forced to forfeit his aristocratic position among the opinion of his peers. What’s more, by keeping his position through excellence in word, deed, and valor, if his deeds were truly excellent enough, he might win immorality by way of memorialization through epic verse and song, like swift-footed Achilles and wily Odysseus, “the man of twists and turns”.

In much the same way was honor the principal concern of the gods, they who had no one above them but their peers by which to know themselves, as if the opinion of their peers was the mirror for their reality. Naturally, the gods scorned the honor of men until very late in their history, until the absolute end of their reign when they had lost the unmitigated access to man and were forced, in order to regain the material finitude of which they strove and still strive today, at long last finally accepted the honor and sacrifices paid to them by men. This acceptance, however, was not a credit to their strength and the implacability of their rule over man but a witness of and to their unrecoverable weakness and inevitable decline.

The common man, on the other hand, as one who has always been beset and everywhere overwhelmed by the whim and power of the strong is, naturally, not concerned with honor but the question of justice, that is, with the curtailing of the strength of the strong and a delimitation of the arbitrary and terrible power of those who rule over him, the strong who are to commoners as gods are to aristocrats.


If the aristocratic “anxiety” was the threat of losing face among one’s peers through some sort of ignobility which might jeopardize one’s lofty social position, that position he was willing to sacrifice himself to uphold, then the common “anxiety” – that which surely holds near-ultimate sway over the motives of the common man wherever and whenever he is forced to exist – is that he will be stuck in his common predicament for, if not his allotted length of days, then for all of eternity. In short, the basic prerogative of the aristocracy is life-affirming and life-embracing. Because he loves life so, he endeavors to hold onto it through the excellence he might achieve. This is his whole strive of life and nothing besides. The Commoner, on the other hand, hates his life and thus at every turn rejects it in hopes that he will amount to something “better” in, perhaps, “another life”; that “better life” which the aristocrat already occupies. Thus the common man’s vociferous zeal for the limitation of the power of the strong through justice, whether judicial of social.


The aristocrat’s self-sacrifice is an actual sacrifice because in doing much, he risks much, and often all. The common man risks nothing in his self-sacrifice and is thus more apt and willing to seek his own self-destruction. Because his sacrifice is meager, that which he may gain is paltry. Speaking then, in the voice of Zeno, “the Common Man will never reach an aristocratic station. For the goal is always twice-half the distance from wherever he stands”, that distance which must first be spanned by half, then another half of the first, then half of that, and on and one ad infinitum with the result that he will never reach his goal of relieving himself of his commonality, never mind how small the step required or imperceptible the distance to get to the other side.


The aristocrats were the original gods in human form, or at least the mouthpiece of the gods. So says not only the logic of my history but also our own epics, ancient poems, mythologies, and origin stories. It stands to reason then that the first aristocrats could be thought to also resemble the gods in their thought, values, and actions, however debauched.


Aristocracies cannot endure without the gods, nor without God.


Cultures of honor will always be cultures of shame.