Oct 11, 2013

The Traditionalism of the Present

[from Prince Jonathan]
  It can be very difficult to be a traditionalist some days. You are continuously mocked and decried as irrationally holding on to something long ago disproven, by people who themselves refuse to consider your position rationally. You are often betrayed or left behind by the political factions who were, mere days before, your staunchest allies and most energetic defenders. You are hard pressed to find anyone who agrees with you, and when you do, you often find that they have a radically different focus, so that you only barely share the same views. Yet, if you have any measure of conviction, you will struggle on all the same, content in the thought that you have the truth. The truth about society, the truth about politics, the truth about the world; that is the nature of traditionalism, and it is that nature that we should embrace.
  For if we do not hold our traditionalism because of its essential truth, if we hold it solely because it is beautiful or ancient or simply preferred by us, then we truly justify the criticisms and hurdles we must so often deal with. Indeed, choosing traditionalism purely because it is traditional is, in a great irony of language, against the spirit of that very concept. Clinging to the past because we like it is, in fact, a liberal choice, an elevation of the individual over society. Pomp, ritual, and solemnity, or age, genealogy, and tradition are not sufficient reasons to hold a complete worldview, no matter how elegant and wonderful they may be.
  This is not to say that these things, these beautiful facets of tradition, are bad. Quite the opposite, they are good. But still, they are not the spirit of tradition, and should not be treated as such. If the outlook of traditionalism had always been accompanied by severity and simplicity, or if there were no rituals or family ties related to it, or even if it were completely new and never before seen, it would still be right. It would still be the same spirit with the same keys to moral order and the betterment of society as a whole. Traditionalism is the proper order of things because of its substance, not its accidents.
  So, to finally state the message of this article clearly, being a traditionalist does not mean that you have to live in the past. On the contrary, in fact; it means you must look to the future. We know the way to proper society, we know the need for a love of duty, for the rule of law, for honour, for identity, and, yes, for respect of what came before. We know that this is the way to build a better country, so we ought to pursue its implementation regardless of what trappings come with it. If we can make it look the way we want it to, so much the better, but this is unnecessary. These traditions of beauty and stability will arise from a well-ordered civilization no matter what, for they come from the spirit of tradition, and not vice versā.
  Indeed, all these magnificent rituals and all these trappings of civilization were once new and innovative. All traditions, and all things loved by traditionalism, were once modern inventions. If we wanted to truly go back to the way things originally were, we would have nothing. Regal garb and majestic crowns, ancient families and royal blood, etiquette, heraldry, and art; all once were newborn and just created. But even then, at their dawn, they were not against tradition; for they sprang from the substance of tradition, which can survive without any ritual.
  So, going forward, we must move discerningly and cautiously as we try to build tradition back up after the wars it has lost. On the one hand, we are commanded by the tenets of traditionalism to respect even the smallest things created by our ancestors. On the other, we must recognize that, in some few ways, the world truly has changed, and we only harm ourselves by refusing to change anything at all to match it. Change, properly done, is traditional; and living in the past, improperly done, is liberal. A great irony, perhaps, but true.
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