Do not be a warrior of culture if you do not need to be. —At long last we learn that of which our ignorance in our youth caused us so much harm: that we have first to do what is excellent, then seek out what is excellent, wherever and under whatever name it is to be found, but avoid all that is bad and mediocre without combatting it, and that to doubt the goodness of a thing — as can easily happen to a more practiced taste — may already count as an argument against it and a reason for ignoring it completely: though this must be at the risk of sometimes blundering and confusing goodness accessible only with difficulty with the bad and the imperfect. Only he who can do nothing better should assault the basenesses of the world as a warrior of culture. But the teachers and promoters of culture destroy themselves when they desire to go about in arms and through precautions, night watches and evil dreams transform the tranquility of their house and calling into an uncanny lack of tranquility.
— Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human
I had never entertained the thought of dumping a box of baking soda in the back of my vehicle. Had you asked my opinion on the desirability of doing so, I would have answered in the negative. However, when a used car battery I was carrying in the rear hatch tipped over and battery acid spilled out, it was with me but the work of a moment to grab a box of Arm & Hammer and empty it over the spill before it ate completely through. Some situations call for drastic measures.
Does our current cultural situation call for drastic measures? Is it enough for those of us with interests beyond political machinations to keep aloof from the fray and sequester ourselves alone with our books and gardens and loved ones? How much time and energy should we spend paying attention to current events, with an eye toward self-defense if nothing else? At what point are we called upon to offer active rather than passive resistance to the acidic forces threatening to corrode and dissolve the things we hold dear, and what form would that take? I would love to believe that these manias and madnesses will burn themselves out soon enough according to some mysterious iron law of history, but I also don’t want to be unjustly complacent.
I’ve never entertained the thought of reading or listening to professional culture warriors like Ben Shapiro, Dave Rubin, Dennis Prager, etc. If you were to ask me my opinion on doing so, I’d answer in the negative. There seems to me something unsatisfying and artificial about them from what (admittedly) little I’ve seen. Then again, baking soda isn’t tasty by itself either, but it sure is handy to have nearby in certain situations. Maybe my attitude is that of the comfortable civilian, ungrateful towards those who serve in the trenches so that I can be free to hold myself aloof from them. Maybe someone needs to fight the enemy on the same level in order to neutralize them, to cancel them out, to prevent further advances.