A number of men’s right’s activists have made it a point to decry “chivalry” in modern society. Among their grievances are the social obligation to hold doors open for women, or to carry out certain tasks which are considered tasteful among polite society. Such men’s rights activists reason that, since women in modern times believe themselves to be equal to men, their function and obligations should be the same.
This, however suggests an incorrect idea of the traditional chilvaric code. Chivalry is not merely a set of mannerisms intended to be “polite,” but rather a complete way of life governing a specific caste. While the knights of the middle ages were indeed expected to adhere to certain standards when dealing with women, it this is not all that it encompassed. Chivalry was originally conceived of as an aristocratic warrior code, and as such was paralleled in the East by bushido (the way of the Warrior). Over time, this warrior code encompassed the way of life both on and off the battlefield. Away from the battlefield, a knight was still a knight, necessitating the non-martial and civil aspects of the tradition.
As a philosophy of war, its roots are deeper though. In the Middle Ages, the exemplification included the Nine Worthies, six of whom predate Christianity. Hector, Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, represented the Pagan tradition, Joshua, David and Judas Maccabeus represented the Hebrew Tradition, and the King Arthur, Charlemagne and Godfrey of Bouillon represented the Christian civilization. Thus, the practice and theory of chivalry was considered something esoteric and in many ways, supra-religious. Metaphysically, the it has its roots in the primordial sacral-royal Tradition associated with the Biblical order of Melchizedek, while embracing the Aryan worldview of the kshatriya; Evola outlines this concept in the following ways, saying that chivalry expresses itself as such:
- upholding the ideal of the hero rather than of the saint, and of the conqueror rather than of the martyr;
- regarding faithfulness and honor, rather than caritas and humbleness, as the highest virtues;
- regarding cowardice and dishonor, rather than sin, as the worst possible evil;
- ignoring…the evangelical precepts of not opposing evil and not retaliating against offenses, but rather, methodically punishing unfairness and evil;
- excluding from its ranks those who followed the Christian precept ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’ to the letter; and
- refusing to love one’s enemy and instead fighting him and being magnanimous only.
“To realise oneself in an increasingly resolute way according to these two distinct and unmistakable directions; to reduce in a woman all that is masculine and in a man everything that is feminine; and to strive to implement the archetypes of the ‘absolute man’ and of the ‘absolute woman’ – this was the traditional law concerning the sexes according to their different planes of existence.” Revolt Against the Modern World (p. 159)