As of today this blog has been renamed The Traditionalist, and it’s new url is radicaltraditionalism.com. I feel it would be remiss of me to let this opportunity pass without explaining my decision to make it explicitly a space for the promotion of traditionalism.
The story of my journey to an embrace of traditionalism probably may not be captivating, but in many ways it seems to parallel the journey humanity has been on the past few centuries, though the conclusion is far from certain to be the same. What i mean is, I was raised with a romantic and firm belief in a religious mythology, began to embrace it intellectually, then encountered certain heresies against those beliefs and, after a rather poor intellectual examination of those original beliefs dropped them, first in favour of agnosticism or a kind of deism, and then in favour of full fledged materialism and atheism. I then faced the consequences of such a belief and, still desiring something greater than myself to believe in, I turned my passion to radical politics. Having seen the failings in such views, I then again dropped into a kind of nihilism, before embracing a return to traditionalism. Were my story to be akin to that of humanities, it would seem we are at the penultimate stage of development, though I am less than hopeful that is how it will pan out.
Raised a Catholic, I was quite devout as a child and for a time I even wanted to be a priest when I grew older. Around a certain age, say 14, an older family member introduced me to a YouTube documentary which viciously attacked religion and the Catholic Church in particular, and then casually “refuted” Christianity with it’s explanation of how the story of Jesus had been fabricated, taking common aspects from other religious myths such as Horus, Mithra and Krishna to construct a satisfying fairytale to keep stupid poor people under the thumb of the all powerful church. Of course, at the time I neither had the critical faculties nor the knowledge to challenge these shocking claims, and thus left my faith.
Despite losing my faith in any and all religion, I always remained an agnostic rather than an atheist, and still had a certain intuition that bare faced atheism could not be true, but I did not trouble myself with thinking over the matter. is there a God? Who knows? Better not to trouble oneself with such unanswerable questions and get on with life. My first great intellectual interest was politics, and I dived into it with all my heart and soul. The same family member who showed me the falsehood of all religion pointed my intellectual endeavors in the direction of radicalism, expressing his horror at the evils of capitalism and the crimes of the US. Once again, he seemed right minded on this, and I became quite left wing for a time, being convinced that socialism was the answer to the ills of mankind.
it is interesting looking back to see how tied my socialism was to my belief in determinism. Before any foray into philosophy, practically from the moment I dropped religion, I was convinced that free will was an illusion. I did not know such a theory even existed outside my own head, but it seemed clear that humans are impacted by the outside world the same way a stone or a tree is, and our movements are similarly determined. How did this tie into my radicalism? If there were such a lack of free will, the result of anyone’s position in society was there upbringing. The poor were poor because they were born into conditions destined to make them poor. The rich were rich by chance, being born into a wealthy family which had similarly won the lottery ticket of birth and been born into favorable circumstances. Having accepted this as true, what option was there other than to enforce a leveling on society, and ensure that all were given the same opportunity (and outcome). If no one was responsible for their position in life, what else could be fair? Of course, I was not so naive as to embrace a bare faced communism, the ideology which had caused the deaths of tens of millions and failed in practically all of it’s aims. I needed an alternative which was just as radical, but avoided the trappings of “orthodox communism”. Aided by reading a lot of Chomsky, I found this in anarchism, anrcho syndicalism, libertarian socialism or whatever other name is being used for it nowadays.
My faith in this belief system was also motivated by another thinker who I had come to love, Friedrich Nietzsche. As he is with many, Nietzsche was the first philosopher I read seriously,in fact, I did not just read him, i devoured him. Nietzsche opened my eyes to a terrible realisation I had somehow always avoided, unintentionally or not. If there was no God, if God really was dead, then everything was fundamentally meaningless. Concepts such as right or wrong, good or evil, better or worse, were just subjective preferences, statements of belief with no objective validity. This meant my passion for radicalism was basically just a silly little passion of mine. No system of governance was really better than another, because to believe that you had to believe in a right and wrong, and the reality we all faced was that in the end we will all die, all our suffering, all our joy, misery, success or failures will all come out in the wash the same. Infinity +1 is still infinity. However, I still had a strong sense of justice, and so I found a new, more Nietzchean way to justify my radicalism. A form of anarchism, it seemed, could be constructed which did not rely on resentment or the remnants of a Christian morality. Rather, this was a more positive system which sought to maximise the potential of all rather than maintain the narrow aims of ensuring everyone got their share of bread and water.
It would be much more simple to point out some moment where my whole perspective entirely changed, but belief is much more complex than that. Over the next few years I studied economics, politics and especially philosophy intently. I came to disregard Nietzsche and actually think him a quite worthless philosopher. I was drawn to the perennial philosophy. It seemed incredible to me to see the enormous similarity found in the doctrines of Eckhart and other Christian mystics, Lao Tzu, the Buddha, Sufism and the Upanishads. I especially took an interest in Eastern philosophy, and after intense study of it’s teachings saw Vedanta, the philosophical school of Hinduism, as the culmination of all philosophy, and it’s Brahman as being the absolute reality of which all religion attempts to express and celebrate. I also became convinced of the truth of idealism, and came to see materialism as an empty and fundamentally false philosophy, laced in error. During this time I became almost apolitical, I had given up on leftism, gradually feeling disdain for the tactics and arguments leftists used to advance their ideology, which to me seemed to appeal to nothing but man’s desire for comfort, before I had any stronger beliefs this always seemed to be an attitude worthy of disgust. I had hated the conservatives for always seeming to appeal to nothing but their constituents greed and desire to become wealthy, but now I realised those on the left appealed to desires just as base. People voted liberal or conservative, basically, based on which one would be most to their advantage, generally financial.
I came to see the whole of modern politics, and the whole of the modern world, as being built on a lie. The lie was never actually spoken, but it was ever present, underlying all discourse and argument. The lie was the promise of heaven on earth. It was the conviction that materialism was true, that God was dead and that the only real truth was the self. We can not believe anything to be absolutely true, and thus we can not believe that anything could be greater than the self, the medium which relegates these other potential truths to mere relativity. And the unavoidable conclusion of such belief is that the only path left for the human race is to pursue a logical path to both ever increasing personal freedom and manipulation of nature through science with the intent of increasing it’s potential to alleviate our suffering and increase our pleasure. The world is slowly moving from what remains of the Christian slave morality to a new utilitarian approach, which trusts in science and personal preferences to dictate the direction of human progress.
I realised this was the spirit of the age, and I detested every aspect of it. The utopianism, the promise of paradise on earth, that same promise which the communists and the fascists had used to justify their grave crimes against humanity. The positivism and scientism, which assumed science could answer all our questions, and anything that could not be answered in such a way was a not a meaningful question in the first place, thus relegating philosophy and religion without even bothering to debate them in any fair way. The belief that nothing was greater than pleasure. That art, education, literature, poetry, beauty, adventure, discovery, invention, religious experience, all of these only had worth in so far as they were enjoyable to the person experiencing them or benefited the survival and pleasure of the human race as a collective. That morality was non existent, that we could not condemn certain behavior or praise virtuous behavior. I detested these views, and I saw that they were not really separate beliefs at all, but rather branches on the one tree, sprouting from the one, fundamental belief which characterised the age they dominated. The belief was materialism. Liberals and conservatives are left and right on a spectrum which operates entirely in a materialist framework, a framework established during the Enlightenment by figures like Rousseau and Locke. Thus, the only alternative was not another place on that spectrum, another point on the compass, rather, the alternative would be to leave that spectrum entirely. To throw away materialism and modernism having accepted it’s failure, and to return to the kinds of beliefs which birthed Western civilization and all it’s fruits.
The alternative? Well, as the Traditionalist writers often point out, all religions have both an exoteric and an esoteric aspect. The exoteric aspect is that expressed to the masses, it is heaven and hell, God in heaven and people on earth, angels and demons, sins and sainthood. The esoteric aspect is that common to all religion. It is the mystical aspect, the one truth expressed by all great mystics and spiritual teachers, which the exoteric side is a simplified, doctrinal version of. These two options seem to be two alternatives to the modern dichotomy. In other words, one could embrace an exoterism, and thus embrace the absolute truth of one religion and struggle for it’s implementation as an alternative to the very post modern malaise we find ourselves in. The other option is esoterism, which would amount either to a form of paganism or an embrace of unity and detached, compassionate action, which could manifest politically as the promotion of spiritual seeking in all it’s forms. This is rather vague, and there’s a reason for that. The esoteric attitude is fundamentally a detached, apolitical one, which does not concern itself with the trivialities of organising the material world when the more fundamental task of achieving gnosis or enlightenment is ever present, and is something the individual must do alone. As such, embracing this spirit seems to land one in a new age, hoky, ultra liberal embrace of humanity which will struggle with relativity of liberalism, and which also lacks an absolute morality.
Thus, the solution, in my view, is a synthesis. A middle way between the esoteric and exoteric sides of traditionalism. This was the case in many ways while Europe was dominated by Christianity, for Christianity is perhaps the only religion which synthesises estoericism and exotericism It is exoterically esoteric, and it thus achieves the unity of the positive aspects of each. Thus, a Christian renaissance would be ideal for the kind of synthesis I believe is now desirable. Nevertheless, the point remains, that a return to the kind of traditionalism once enjoyed is not possible, as the subconscious prejudices and beliefs which enforced it have been challenged and called into question, and that alone is enough to derail the validity of the system they enforced. And so, my firm conviction is that our future, if we are to have one, rests in a ‘Neo Traditionalism’ which can find the best aspects of Traditionalism and a way to synthesise them with aspects of modern life and development which either will not or should not go away. The search for, promotion, and refinement of this viewpoint will be the purpose of this website.