Thoughts out of season – the future of traditionalism (Part Five)
By Mark Wegierski
(The earliest drafts of this essay go back to October 1985. – Author`s note)
Some may see analogies between the decay of Rome (or other moments in history), and our own late modern period. It was a world not only of Cicero and Augustus, but of scrofulous Neros and pock-marked Caligulas. But the basic acknowledgement of and striving for the fulfillment of a moral imperative in society (here exemplified by the Ancient virtues of Rome), however imperfectly it is embodied, is far better than its total denial. Although Pope Alexander VI (Roderigo Borgia) was a decayed personality, there remains, even in Renaissance society, a real ethical code. Ironically, the Northern barbarians sacking Rome maintained at least a vestigial respect for the grandeur of Rome, whereas the persons possibly overwhelming the West today from "the South" have been taught to do nothing but hate it, by the Western elites themselves. It seems that almost no Roman, however physically feeble, wished for the fall of Rome because it had created a magnificent empire, worthy of praise. The fall of Rome took centuries, coming about mostly (it could be argued) as a result of lack of purely physical resources. Even today, the West has a superabundance of physical resources available that could conceivably be deployed in its defence; it simply seems to have ceased believing in itself, and lost its will to live.
While life in pre-modernity may have certainly been harsh at many times, and for many people, the question modern liberals refuse to examine is how pre-modern societies, with about one-millionth of the economic resources available to late modern society, managed to create sublime art, philosophy, and religion, and to maintain the continuity of society for a thousand years at a time, or even longer. How wretched, thin, and pathetic, is nearly all the art of late modernity!
It seems that, in the presence of high technology, the only effective limits to power will be those generated by the ideology of the ruling group. A ruling group whose philosophy recognizes natural limits will probably be the least likely to abuse its power, as a philosophy of recognizing and understanding natural limits, also, ipso facto, limits governmental and coercive power. It seems that only a ruler who is guided by some degree of commitment to virtue will see any reason to be (or attempt to be) an ethical person, and not to abuse his or her power. It might be argued that it is only in a society accepting natural limits that there will be any attempts at self-control by the hierarchy. At the same time, some might argue that modern technology offers unprecedented possibilities for the effecting of true goodness in the world, if only such technology could be properly steered and
Liberalism, as seen from the standpoint of rooted tradition, seems to be waging a war on society. It appears unlikely to address such social problems as crime and family breakdown, if not actually exacerbating them. How can liberals talk about a "decent human society," in the face of such burgeoning problems? It plainly seems that liberalism lacks the strength and moral will to deal with such issues. It's clear, for example, that the burgeoning plague of illicit drugs could only be crushed by extraordinary measures of which liberalism seems totally incapable. Although there are some liberals who are willing to be tough on crime, and although all liberals resent having their policies being identified as leading to increased crime and social disorder, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that "soft" liberal psychology has played a part in these burgeoning trends.
Liberalism, as seen from the standpoint of rooted tradition, seeks to destroy Western national cultures -- and all the rooted cultures of the planet -- through the artificial formation of multicultural, anomic, said to be "value-free" society. Liberalism, it seems, will never fulfill the real human needs for archetypal unity and harmony. It appears to reduce the human person to a machine, an automaton devoid of spirit. Liberalism might well be interpreted as the Death-Wish, the tendency to entropy, the Thanatos, that can only be confronted by the spirit of life, of organic tradition, of rooted, reflective particularity.
To the traditionalist thinker, organic tradition (rooted, reflective particularity) transcends ideology. It is Life. It is, the traditionalist thinker argues, that in us which is truly human. The traditionalist thinker urges us to consider what the liberal or Marxist, devoid of traces of organic tradition, would be. To the traditionalist thinker, such a liberal is seen as a highly negative type of personality, as a social libertine, a political manipulator, or a ruthless capitalist -- or, on the other extreme, as a person willing to cave in to any minority demands -- if the demanding group can be made to appear as some sort of victims of mainstream Western civilization, and sufficiently "alien/alienated" from mainstream Western civilization. The doctrinaire Marxist (or the blowhard fascist) could be seen as a power-mad ideologue, a Robespierre, a Stalin, a Hitler, who recognizes no limits on the exercise of political violence.
The traditionalist will argue that it is only through the outmost efforts of human beings striving for real humanity against the prospects of total enslavement to technology (and the ideologies that arise therefrom), that a real, socially-worthwhile world could be recreated. It may be helpful to use a naturalistic image to describe this process. Humankind has passed through the blessed innocence of childhood, when the numinous was with humankind, to a troubled adolescence of rebellion and self-destruction. It is now time to enter the world of real maturity, to fulfill Providential destiny, and not to destroy ourselves through self-destructive behaviour or suicide. It is a choice which must be strenuously argued for, as all other paths seem to lead to perdition. Yet, every day, the Left-liberal oligarchies seem to be closing off path after path by which a nobler, higher society could be created.
So, the traditionalist will polemically ask, are you a human being or a machine?
"All that is necessary for the triumph of Evil is for good men to do Nothing." -- Edmund Burke
Mark Wegierski is a Canadian writer and historical researcher.