If war is natural to man, then it must have a metaphysical basis.
Leo Strauss writes of Thucydides: “Human life moves between the poles of war and peace, or barbarism and Greekness, and of deed and speech. But this relationship of deed and speech is much more complex than the relationship of war and peace on the one hand and of barbarism and Greekness on the other. One may wonder whether the dualism of deed and speech Is not the very core of human life. Be that as it may, when Thucydides set out to give a true account of the biggest unrest and therewith to lay bare the nature of human life, he was bound to have at his disposal an adequate articulation of the dualism of deed and speech. He had to present that dualism in action, in deed—by speech. He had to imitate that dualism appropriately.”
Thucydides had to create a work whose very construction and articulation imitates the nature of man in war and peace. War is a severe form of disorder, while peace is a kind of rest. Strauss tells us that there are two major forces at work in Thucydides, motion and rest. War is the greatest motion, while peace is at rest. There are opposites that are complements, like yin and yang, there are opposites that must be reconciled or resolved like life and death or the resolution of Daoist actionless action.
Action is the realm of man where he develops his possibilities and the battlefield is precisely a field of man’s development. The realm of peace is much more a realm of speech and reasoning. War is a terrible disorder that is used to put an end to disorder and establish order once again. War which is fought in the on field of multiplicity is, in effect, an effort to once again restore wholeness or unity on what is not unified. For what else is human chaos but multiple events and disruptions without any unity? War at the highest level is a cosmic process where unified multiplicity is restore to an integrated unity.
War, moreover, is fought on two levels. No one articulated this more vividly than the Prophet Mohammad, and it is terrible thing that his adherents do not read this passage correctly. In the Quran, the Prophet returns to Mecca after fighting and conquering. He refers to this war as the “lesser jihad,” the war that is fought on the material plane of life, but the Prophet realizes what is truly important is to turn to the “greater jihad,” a purely inward and spiritual war, In this jihad the individual attempts to conquer himself, so to speak, and reintegrate into the unity of the world out of the disorder of himself. It is this spiritual war that the Prophet teaches Islam, not the lesser jihad where conflicted young men blow themselves up in a marketplace, using suicide to murder dozens of people at a time. Osama bin Laden has perverted the Prophet for his lesser jihad.
Even within the lesser jihad, the greater jihad is always there. So many war stories have been told throughout the centuries, and the very great ones are not about the slaughter, but about the spiritual war within that the warrior fights. In a decisive way, war is always fought in the world that is manifested by metaphysical duality. That there is a duality means that warfare, especially on the spiritual level, is about balancing disorder with disorder. On a higher level, the sum of all disequilibriums and disorders are the final order. That means that order is finally seen when the unity of all things is seen and that the unity of all things provides a vision o f the illusory character of multiplicity.
Strauss writes: “And why does the specific difference between the speeches of the characters require that these speeches be edited by Thucydides in order to become true? The speeches of the characters are political speeches; each speech presents a particular policy of this city to the audience. Each speech is radically partial. As such it does not properly reveal the whole. Yet it exists within the whole, within the true whole, i.e., within the whole as Thucydides saw it…The true account of the true character of is Thucydides’ own logos. Editing a political speech means to integrate it into the true and comprehensive speech. It means therefore to make the political speech visible as something fundamentally different from the necessarily limited horizon of the political actor. Connected with this difference is the following one: the political speech exercises much less reserve in praising and blaming than does the true speech.”
The true speech not only tells the truth of war, jihad, but of peace as well. The end of war is not just peace, but of order, equilibrium, and harmony, both on a material and non-material level. The disorderly multiplicity of the world is transformed and brought back to unity finally seen as the whole and plentitude is seen for what it is. To put in terms of the Prophet, it is “unity in multiplicity and multiplicity in unity” where they are indivisibly at the central part of all manifestation, which is the Divine Abode or Divine Station, the Prophet’s es-Sakinata. There are no more contraries, and hence there is peace.
Even at the lowest level of jihad, a legitimate war, which is waged against the destroyers of order, the fundamental effort to use disorder to remove disorder is rooted in justice through a balancing function. The lesser jihad must be seen as a reflection of the great jihad. It comes out of the terrible spiritual battle that our souls struggle with every day. We truly have inner enemies and these inner enemies explode into the lesser jihad. These inner enemies exist to be overcome, because practically all of us are not spiritually and mentally integrated in the whole, i.e., that we all have a personal unity that makes us what we are.
That admits of the problem, once again, of action and thought or speech and what the union of speech and thought with action is. For action, intention is everything, which places all responsibility on the individual to seek the peace, the still center of all motion. The realization of the unity of the individual puts an end to war, an end to jihad. One ends up in the center of all things, which is also the Daoist “Will of Heaven,” the great peace in absolutely in the eternal present.
While it sounds all too easy here, it must be remembered what Strauss writes: “Plato had no illusions about the fact that if we limit our motivation to human affairs in the narrow sense, Thucydides is right: political life proves again and again its imperviousness to philosophy. But Plato demanded that we take a comprehensive view, that we see human affairs in their connection with human nature, and human nature as a part of the whole; and he contended that if we do this, we shall arrive at a conclusion that the higher is stronger than the lower. The ultimate reason why Plato and Thucydides disagree has to be ought, not in different estimate of human affairs as such, but in a different view of the whole.”
There is order and there is chaos and there is peace and jihad. But there is lesser jihad and there is greater jihad, and when we lose sight of the greater jihad the world explodes and men slaughter each other without remorse and ruthlessly. Thus, the lower cannot rule the higher; it is unjust.