Sunday, May 05, 2013

An example of misunderstanding traditionalism

People are used to politics being dominated by a right and a left liberalism. That can make it difficult to envisage an alternative to these options.

I was reminded of this in the discussion to my post "Hostility in the manosphere". One commenter, calling himself "Nah," claimed that hostility to traditionalists is justified by the fact that traditionalists have already been around a long time but had lost:
In one form or another, "traditionalism" has been around for over 60 years, and has an unbroken record of total and unmitigated defeat.
 
To me, that's a puzzling claim. I wrote a comment in response pointing out that by the 1970s society was dominated not just by liberalism but more specifically by a left-liberalism, which dominated the schools, the universities, the mainstream churches and the media. There were no institutions (in Australia, anyway) which you could call traditionalist.

Nah accepted that society after the 1970s was dominated by liberalism. But he didn't accept my claim that there were no significant non-liberal institutions earlier in the 1900s (with the partial exception of the Catholic Church) to oppose the advance of liberalism. He wrote:
Are you kidding? ALL the institutions were non-liberal at the beginning of the 20th century. Over time the liberals infiltrated them, hollowed them out, and generally turned them into a mockery of their former selves. Conservatism (like the British Empire) went from penthouse to outhouse over the course of the century. You are deluded if you think you can get back into the penthouse when you couldn't even defend it back in the day you actually owned it.
 
It's true that liberalism did move to rule more exclusively on liberal principles alone during the course of the 1900s. But that doesn't mean that in the year 1900 you had a situation in which a traditionalist ruling class governed society via traditionalist dominated institutions. That very much misunderstands what was happening at that time.

In Australia, for instance, politics was dominated by a contest between a group of Deakinite liberals who favoured protection and another group of free trade liberals. The Labor Party had just become a significant third force in politics. Was there an organised traditionalist party in Australia in 1900, representing a powerful section of the ruling elite? The answer is no.

Remember too that the 1800s were the heyday of classical liberalism and that the first wave of feminism began from the mid-1800s and reached a peak of radicalism in the early decades of the twentieth century.

Artistic and political modernism had already developed a long way by the year 1900. For instance, Nietzsche had declared the death of God in the 1880s; Freud effectively did likewise in his very influential works which he began publishing in the 1890s; a movement of nihilists and anarchists assassinated various heads of state from the 1880s; and Munch painted "The Scream" in the 1890s.

The full force of modernism in the arts was therefore ready to hit very soon after the year 1900. Picasso's "The women of Avignon" was painted in 1907; Duchamp's "Fountain" (a urinal) dates from 1917; Schoenberg's influential atonal work Pierrot Lunaire was composed in 1912; and James Joyce began work on Ulysses in 1914.

So it was modernism, and not traditionalism, that was in full flight in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

In his final response Nah accepts that classical liberalism was strong in the 1800s, but he goes on to make this objection:
As for the "classical liberalism" of the 1800s... that is exactly what is known today as conservatism or traditionalism. Is this really what you oppose? If you are against "1800s liberalism", exactly what are you in favor of? What kind of "traditionalism" are you talking about if you exclude everything that happened in the English-speaking world in the 1800s?
 
So we finally get to the real basis of the misunderstanding. Nah believes that traditionalism is just another name for classical liberalism. He wonders if we don't believe in contemporary liberalism, nor in classical liberalism, exactly what is left for us to believe in. He finds it difficult to see the alternative.

This post would become horrendously long if I tried to make a detailed reply right now. But the basic point I will make is that in rejecting both forms of liberalism we are not "excluding everything that happened in the English-speaking world in the 1800s". Until recent decades liberalism did not seek to rule exclusively by its own principles. The family, for instance, was nearly entirely untouched by liberalism until about the 1850s. Christianity remained strong within the Anglo elite up to about the 1880s and the aristocratic values are evident within Anglo culture right up to the 1920s. Traditional forms of nationalism, whilst somewhat undermined by liberalism, held on until the 1930s in most Anglo countries.

So there was still an ongoing tradition, with many things to admire within it, in the 1800s and later, despite the fact that liberals were strong within the political class and pushed society over time in the direction they favoured.

63 comments:

  1. I agree that many have difficulty imagining what a traditionalist society would look like, especially because it is fundamentally different than either right or left liberalism. I suggest that this should give us pause to think how far we have "progressed" since the 1970s. As you note, many of our institutions were fundamentally non-liberal until then.

    I would suggest for consideration that chemical contraception is a major reason why left liberalism was able to advance so quickly. Without it, liberalism could only have so much of an effect on the average person. I doubt there is anything more effective than pregnancy and children which bolsters differentiated sex roles.

    Finally, what can be done to restore a traditional society in the face of a technology that has opened Pandora's Box?

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  2. MRAs are liberals in sheep's clothing. What exposes them is the fact that they can't accept that no, there were no major non-liberal institutions, figures or worldviews in the 1900's and I'll even place this claim that this hasn't been the case for the past (what?) 300-500 years (give or take).

    I often find that modern enlightened liberals can't, and will not accept, that right-liberals (neocons to libertarians) aren't genuine religious conservatives or traditionalists.

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  3. Liberalism uses the frog slowly boiled in the hot pot tactic. If the frog is in the pot, or is being boiled, then it's game over, because it is a slippery slope that won't stop.

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  4. Classical liberalism is just an earlier version of modern liberalism. Be scared of them, for they are false opposition.

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  5. Finally, what can be done to restore a traditional society in the face of a technology that has opened Pandora's Box?

    First of all, disregard and attack Darwinian evolution (Charles Darwin was an Anglo scientist). That takes off a huge leg in the whole "progressive/evolutionary/new (same thing really)" meme. Even modern-day environmentalism should be attacked.

    Second, don't listen to the narrative/frame. The current frame (which is a sort of twisted religion unto itself, maybe a "secular religion") has its own set of codes, beliefs and rituals.

    Blogger Mencious Moldbug (he discussed this at the now VFR) talked about the "Cathedral".

    Third, after the worldview and other things have been opposed, and something else is being created/built in its place, things like widespread contraception/abortion will be history and but a memory.

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  6. Last but not least expect the "Cathedral" of MEWSL (modern enlightened western secular liberal) to protect itself and kill/eliminate all opposition on spot. Which is another thing, don't do it alone (no group). Doing something alone against them is a suicide mission.

    Survivalist preppers stocking guns and ammunition aren't being crazy.

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  7. But aren't the survivalists doing it on their own?

    They aren't challenging at the level of ideas or building up their own institutions. They aren't doing anything to give themselves political weight.

    It's possible that they too much focus on an individualist vs totalitarian concept of politics. In other words, they think you have to choose between either a rugged individualism or a totalitarianism, so they don't value all the intermediary institutions that go to make up a well-functioning society.

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  8. But aren't the survivalists doing it on their own?


    Yeah, that's their biggest weakness and they have a lot of problems, but their sense that unless armed they aren't going to make it because there is opposition out there, isn't necessarily crazy.

    Those who challenge today's order aren't going to be met with (true) kindness and it's better to be ready than sorry.

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  9. Did Traditionalism even exist in the 1800s? By that I mean, was it simply the status quo which was being challenged by the revolutions: industrial, political, and scientific? The technological advances of our culture have enabled its vector. BC's point above is spot on; without contraception, the modern egalitarian state disappears almost instantly.

    Traditionalism in its essence was adhered to by necessity, but now we have 'choice'. The problem is that Liberalism elevates the individual's 'choice' to a sacred status. This is where the talk of 'individualist' and 'collectivist' becomes confusing. To the Liberal, the individual's will is sacred, to the Traditionalist it is family and surrounding community. And yet, the Liberal will form a warren, clinging to the groupmind and the collective's emotional security. Conversely, the Traditionalist elevates the individual's will as sovereign over the family.

    This is what Nah and the MRM don't get: the inevitability and necessity of human communities; aristocratic ideals; and the futility of their rage.

    I think the survivalists do form solid groups, but they're not political. They're relying on the collapse of the 'system' to tip things in their favour.

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  10. Classic liberalism vs tradition was a battle of new money vs old money. The industrial revolution allowed a lot of new money merchants to challenge the aristocracy. They resented the fact that despite making a lot more money then many members of the aristocracy they had less status. So they sought to reduce the status of "tradition".

    Back when new money was mainly composed of *relatively* free market entrepreneurs producing real goods it has a libertarian streak. However, most new money today comes from the "management" class. This leads to a very different outlook. Management and ownership are very different, but the specialized knowledge economy requires the two to be separate. In addition we switched from a real production economy (widgets) to a consumer idea economy. Both of these switches mean that new money today is radically different form the new money of the 1800s. This is mainly a technological, not political, phenomenon.

    Try to understand that nobody "owns" these companies. They are owned by diverse shareholders that don't manage most of the operations and maybe pop in the vote on mergers every once in awhile. They are managed entities, and even the managers are chosen by boards full of other managers. The managers may also "own" lots of stock in diversified stock portfolios but that is not qualitatively different, its just more quantity. They aren't managing those companies either.

    It makes sense this would cause a switch from classic liberalism to modern liberalism. The goal is the same, to raise its status. All that changes is the incentives. The same crass status drive and all encompassing this worldly materialism/utilitarianism is present.

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  11. I swear I've heard the term Traditionalist used for centuries.

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  12. Frankly I think you are grossly abusing the term "liberal". To describe ANY political party in the Western world in 1900 as "liberals" in the 2013 sense is absurd. To equate the "classical liberals" of the 1800s with the liberals of today borders on the insane.

    If you want to call yourself a conservative / traditionalist, the immediate question arises -- what tradition are you trying to conserve? One can identify a number of revolutionary breakpoints in the "traditions" of the white English-speaking world: 1688, 1776, 1861, 1933, 1965. So how far back do you want to go?

    You have failed to define what "traditions" you wish to preserve, advance, and advocate. I await clarification on this score.

    Personally, I suspect that most "traditionalists" would be happy to live in the America / Britain / Australia that existed from 1945 to 1965. It would be a major task indeed to return to that "tradition". If you want to turn the clock back even further, to some even more distant "tradition" of the past, it is even harder to see how this objective could be achieved.

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  13. Incidentally, I recently learned that my great-grandfather had nine children with four different women back in the 1920s and 1930s. He was only legally married to the first woman. This makes me wonder how traditional that traditional era really was. Certainly the conventional mores of the time weren't holding him back.

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  14. I swear I've heard the term Traditionalist used for centuries.

    It's the destruction of language and the loss of meaning of words. This isn't just a feminist thing, but an enlightened modern liberal streak in general.

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  15. For myself, these discussions raise a significant question: what is the actual purpose of having discussions about politics and society if one has no means to make any changes to it?

    The democratic process is in theory a fair system but in practice it is the tyranny of the majority.

    If people wish to vote for centre-left social democratic parties that believe in free trade, open borders, a large public sector, and political correctness and hostility to traditionalism permeating society's institutions, then there's nothing we can really do to stop them.

    It is indeed true that free market capitalism and classical liberalism are effectively just another side of the liberal coin that at one end could be described as right-liberalism or neoconservatism, and on the other left-liberalism which is more openly at war with traditional values.

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  16. If you want to turn the clock back even further

    It's not about returning to the "past" or "turning back the clock". That view assumes a linear view of time and a progressive/evolutionary theme.

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  17. It's not about returning to the "past" or "turning back the clock". That view assumes a linear view of time and a progressive/evolutionary theme.

    Sorry dude, but the idea of "tradition" has no meaning unless it is in reference to a state of affairs that existed in the past. If you want to establish customs, attitudes, behaviors, and institutions that are not related to those that existed in the past, that's great, but don't call it "traditionalism".

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  18. This is what Nah and the MRM don't get: the inevitability and necessity of human communities; aristocratic ideals; and the futility of their rage.

    I get that just fine. What I'm saying, that you don't get, is that the "traditional" human communities that existed in the past - the ones that "traditionalists" consider ideal - were utterly destroyed by liberalism. Therefore trying to recreate them is futile.

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  19. Frankly I think you are grossly abusing the term "liberal". To describe ANY political party in the Western world in 1900 as "liberals" in the 2013 sense is absurd. To equate the "classical liberals" of the 1800s with the liberals of today borders on the insane.

    I really don't understand why you write this. The fundamental liberal principle, that politics is about maximising individual liberty, understood to mean removing impediments to individual choice to create an autonomous, self-determining individual, has been highly influential in Anglo political thought for centuries.

    The principle hasn't changed, it has just been applied more radically over time (and in particular the non-liberal principles which once also had authority have been gradually set aside).

    Here is Herbert Spencer in 1851:

    To enforce the fundamental law - to take care that every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man - this is the special purpose for which the civil power exists. Now insuring to each the right to pursue within the specified limits the objects of his desires without let or hindrance, is quite a separate thing from insuring him satisfaction ...

    Here is Hobhouse in 1911:

    Liberalism is the belief that society can be safely founded on this self-directing power of personality.

    Hobbes, though veering off in a different direction to modern liberalism, nonetheless understood liberty in a similar way. He wrote in 1651:

    By LIBERTY, is understood, according to the proper signification of the word, the absence of externall Impediments: which impediments, may take away part of a mans power to do what he would.

    ... a FREE-MAN, is he, that in those things, by which his strength and will he is able to do, is not hindered to do what he has a will to do.


    Nah, the political scientists actually go much further than I do in tracing back the lineage of liberalism. Here, for instance, is Professor John Kekes:

    "The history of liberalism has hitherto been a story of success. It began during the Renaissance as a reaction to religious orthodoxy, gained strength throughout the Reformation, and became one of the main political forces in the Enlightenment...With the demise of Marxism, it has become the dominant ideology of our time."

    Presumably you also think Professor Kekes is absurd in thinking this, but he is one of the most prominent academic scholars of liberalism.

    Nah, you are right that there have been a number of revolutionary breaks in Western history.

    So what then is the tradition we support?

    First, the term traditionalism means a rejection of the modernist principles that are pushing society in a certain direction. We oppose the logic of autonomous individualism, whether it is held by right-liberals or left-liberals.

    Second, we believe in upholding the larger tradition we belong to, which means the ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic tradition. This process doesn't mean returning to a point in the past, it always means for every generation taking the best of this tradition into the future.

    The problem for traditionalists today is that liberalism has had such a radical effect, that the continuity of tradition has been broken and lost.

    We therefore have to seek to restore what we can, even if that is on a smaller scale than what existed previously.

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  20. I understand "Nah"'s objection, and it goes some way toward explaining why I have never quite been satisfied with the term "traditionalism." Still, he is wrong on the substance.

    What we (should) seek to restore is not simply tradition qua tradition, but tradition as particular manifestation of truth. So indeed, there are features of life from 1945-65 that morally surpass the present. We should seek to restore them. But it would not be possible to do so with the same understanding of those arrangements as held by the people of the time. Quite obviously, they failed to grasp the full significance of the things they were doing right. It is arguably the case the there has never been a fully non-liberal form of public discourse in America at least, and that needs to change.

    This requires a return to forms of thinking that do not discount nature. It is not such an obscure matter; such was the prominent mode of discourse in the west prior to Hobbes and Descartes, and certain of its features persisted even into some 17th and 18th century thinkers, who understood more fully than we, just what a terrible rupture had been inaugurated in the name of accommodation and peace.

    Until this is done, then everything will simply be folded into the same bloody Hegelian logic that people like "Nah" seem unwittingly to accept: the physical-historical waning of a thing speaks to its logical or moral inadequacy. This is a dead end for anyone who seeks to upend the existing order.




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  21. What exposes them is the fact that they can't accept that no, there were no major non-liberal institutions, figures or worldviews in the 1900's and I'll even place this claim that this hasn't been the case for the past (what?) 300-500 years (give or take).

    So why weren't traditionalists 500 years ago able to stop "liberalism"? And why haven't you traditionalists been able to make a dent in it since? You guys have had 500 years according to what you said. If you can't do anything in 500 years, your philosophy is a dead end.

    Of course, I know the answer I get will be to move the goalposts even further back in history. Eventually, you guys will blame "liberalism" on Og the caveman.

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  22. No sooner did I say it....

    PM/AF delivers a perfect illustration of the fallacy I just described.

    PM/AF, here is the question, put succinctly: Do you deem it impossible that mistaken ideas (either partially or fully so) might persist and thrive for long periods of time? Or is it the case that the mere appearance of something speaks to its truth and merit?

    If you accept the latter, then either you must lump it and deal with the liberal/feminist worldview, OR you must go do something about the situation, based on your personal feelings, with the attendant supposition that those feelings signify nothing more. Why bother arguing, just destroy.

    You mock traditionalists for their failures, but what could be more impotence-inducing than your blind acceptance of history?

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  23. PM/AF, here is the question, put succinctly: Do you deem it impossible that mistaken ideas (either partially or fully so) might persist and thrive for long periods of time?

    Depending on how long you mean by "long periods of time", yes. Communism lasted a little over 70 years, but it fell apart under its own weight. Communism would have fallen apart sooner if it wasn't being given aid by the West. Eventually bad ideas fail. Really bad ideas fail spectacularly.

    You guys are telling me that "liberalism" (which you haven't even defined very well) is wrong, yet it hasn't failed in 500 years. And if it's so wrong, it should have been easy for you guys to defeat it.

    If you accept the latter, then either you must lump it and deal with the liberal/feminist worldview,

    According to what I have read here, "liberalism" (whatever it's supposed to be) has been around for 500 years so it's been anti-feminist 9 times longer than its been feminist. This gets to the problem that I'm (and Nah are) having which is what traditionalism are you guys really talking about. The only tradition you guys seem to be interested in is misandry.

    Everything else in the tradcon worldview is just being a mindless contrarian as we see with the whole idea of equality. All the time you guys spent being against equality if for naught because as I reported on The Spearhead today, feminists are now admitting that they are against equality (including equality before the law). Congratulations, you guys are now agreeing with what you said you were against.

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  24. So would you say that communism is false merely because it collapsed? Or rather, because there is something inhuman, degrading, and ugly about it as well?

    If you refuse to talk about the second in any terms but the first, you are a slave and don't realize it.

    Equality is a bad idea not because feminists support or oppose it, but because it is false, degrading, ugly, and untrue to the most basic elements of human life. A properly ordered society is self-consciously a patriarchy. But as usual, the "men's rights" folks are more interested in spiting women than the true or the good. You seem to interpret anything but blanket condemnations of the female sex as "misandry."

    A properly ordered society is self-consciously a patriarchy. But this requires an argument that goes beyond historical success. Chivalry, for instance, lasted a damn long time. The mere fact that it collapsed tells us nothing about why it's largely false and degrading.

    It seems hardly odd at all that some thinkers could inaugurate a view that included equality, and that such doctrines would not fully "take hold" in people's behavior for a long time. It takes a great deal of material wealth and comfort to afford folly, and people are largely creatures of habit. This would seem odd only -- again -- if you fully identify thought and behavior, or perhaps thought and historical success.





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  25. I tend to think that the roots of many of our problems today go back to the rise of the Romantic Movement. This movement marked the beginning of the idea that the individual matters more than society, and it also gave birth to the kinds of crazy, naive and ridiculously idealised views of nature that are still with us.

    Cultural movements have always had greater effects than political events. The Left understands this. Change the culture and everything else will eventually change.

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  26. That view assumes a linear view of time and a progressive/evolutionary theme.
    Technically incorrect as evolution is not linear.
    A traditionalist society would be evolution.

    Nah said
    "tradition" has no meaning unless it is in reference to a state of affairs that existed in the past.

    Of course it does you can carry on tradition now and into the future. Traditionalism I think what separates it from conservatism is the belief and acceptance of certain immutable aspects of a traditional society.
    These constants should never change and never ever even be considered for change.
    This puts Traditionalism at odds with left liberalism that wants constant change, upheaval and revolution in all aspects of society. Really for no other reason than childishly thinking immutable standards are evil.

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  27. The fundamental liberal principle, that politics is about maximising individual liberty, understood to mean removing impediments to individual choice to create an autonomous, self-determining individual, has been highly influential in Anglo political thought for centuries.

    I don't agree with your long-running contention that modern liberals actually want maximum individual liberty and "autonomy" in the sense that classical liberals meant it (classical liberals being more akin to modern libertarians on that score). Modern liberals favor massive state intervention into every aspect of social, economic, and political life, which far from removing impediments to autonomy and self-determination, is necessarily the very death of autonomy and self-determination. Modern liberals want to crush the individual, and they are knowingly the enemies of liberty in the sense that classical liberals meant it.

    Moreover, classical liberals in the late 18th and in the 19th centuries most certainly did NOT think that ALL impediments to individual choice should be removed. They believed in nation, in religion, and in ethnic group, among other things. That's why modern liberals despise them as Christian racists.

    For example, Hobbes, in Leviathan, argued for a commonwealth ruled by an absolute Christian sovereign. This is so alien to the beliefs of a modern liberal that drawing a direct line from Hobbes to modern liberalism is simply laughable.

    The principle hasn't changed, it has just been applied more radically over time (and in particular the non-liberal principles which once also had authority have been gradually set aside).

    I disagree that there has been no change in the nature of the principle. There is a definite break between the classical liberals and the modern statist liberals.

    First, the term traditionalism means a rejection of the modernist principles that are pushing society in a certain direction. We oppose the logic of autonomous individualism, whether it is held by right-liberals or left-liberals.

    But since you think those "modernist principles" go back to the 1600s, your "traditions" of necessity are from a time so remote to current reality that I question their relevance and political practicality. If you want to reestablish, in effect, the Holy Roman Empire... well, like I said, everyone has to have a hobby.

    Just keep in mind that liberalism is an evolved superpredator that has destroyed everything in its path from the Holy Roman Empire on forward. Your idea that liberalism has never really been opposed is preposterous.

    The problem for traditionalists today is that liberalism has had such a radical effect, that the continuity of tradition has been broken and lost.

    And therefore, in effect, what you are seeking to establish is not "traditionalism" but something new. When the last subject of the Holy Roman Emperor has died, then you have a people with new traditions (and appalling liberal ones at that), and an effort to reestablish the Empire is not really traditionalism at all. It is the inculcation of what are, in effect, entirely new values, attitudes, and behaviors rather than a reversion to previous (but still understood) ones.

    We therefore have to seek to restore what we can, even if that is on a smaller scale than what existed previously.

    Liberalism is a total belief system that brooks no competitors. It cannot be partially resisted. It must be totally destroyed.

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  28. the physical-historical waning of a thing speaks to its logical or moral inadequacy.

    It seems obvious enough to me that the massive, world-wide rejection of "traditional" beliefs must necessarily reflect inadequacy on some level.

    So why weren't traditionalists 500 years ago able to stop "liberalism"? And why haven't you traditionalists been able to make a dent in it since? You guys have had 500 years according to what you said. If you can't do anything in 500 years, your philosophy is a dead end.

    Bingo. Exactly right.

    These guys would be better off agreeing with me that modern liberalism - the one we're dealing with now - is essentially a 20th century phenomenon, but for some reason they're determined to trace it back to Og the Caveman.

    In the United States, you could argue as a "traditionalist" that we need to restore the Republic as it was in 1960 (or 1932) and a lot of people would get behind that. Start talking about the rejection of everything since the Reformation and people will simply think you are nuts.

    You guys are telling me that "liberalism" (which you haven't even defined very well) is wrong, yet it hasn't failed in 500 years. And if it's so wrong, it should have been easy for you guys to defeat it.

    Bingo again!

    Of course it does you can carry on tradition now and into the future. Traditionalism I think what separates it from conservatism is the belief and acceptance of certain immutable aspects of a traditional society.

    Why is this so hard? Unless a society existed in the past that embodied those "immutable aspects" then what you are describing is NOT a tradition -- which is, by definition, based on the past -- it is something entirely new.

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  29. "I don't agree with your long-running contention that modern liberals actually want maximum individual liberty and "autonomy" in the sense that classical liberals meant it (classical liberals being more akin to modern libertarians on that score). Modern liberals favor massive state intervention into every aspect of social, economic, and political life, which far from removing impediments to autonomy and self-determination, is necessarily the very death of autonomy and self-determination."

    The goal of modern liberalism is socialism which is indeed the death knell for individual liberty. Modern liberals TALK about freedom and autonomy but they pursue policies that crush freedom and autonomy. It's very very Orwellian.

    That's why I dislike using the term liberal. It has no meaning these days. Liberalism is well and truly dead. We need to call a spade a spade. Modern liberals are almost without exception socialists. We should call them by their true name.

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  30. Why is this so hard? Unless a society existed in the past that embodied those "immutable aspects" then what you are describing is NOT a tradition -- which is, by definition, based on the past -- it is something entirely new.

    Nah, Societies have always had immutable aspects.
    Only radical autonomous liberals as Mark says have wanted a constant upheaval of institutions.

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  31. That's why I dislike using the term liberal. It has no meaning these days. Liberalism is well and truly dead. We need to call a spade a spade. Modern liberals are almost without exception socialists. We should call them by their true name.

    Soon Socialists will be calling themselves Conservatives.

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  32. Societies have always had immutable aspects.

    OK, so now you accept my statement that "traditionalism" necessarily referes to a state of affairs that existed in the past, when, presumably, societies reflected the "immutable aspects" that you find pleasing?

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  33. "Liberalism is a total belief system that brooks no competitors. It cannot be partially resisted. It must be totally destroyed."

    I think you're absolutely right on this point - and isn't this what we both want, and the rest is haggling over details?

    Re the timescales and the evolving beast of Liberalism, isn't the fundamental difference between the Classical Liberal and the Modern Liberal modernism? The belief that technology will save us from our troubles led to the abandonment of many traditional practices. Even after modernism failed, it still lives on because the creatures of habit (rabbits) still cling to it.

    "What I'm saying, that you don't get, is that the "traditional" human communities that existed in the past - the ones that "traditionalists" consider ideal - were utterly destroyed by liberalism. Therefore trying to recreate them is futile."

    It's about creating, not recreating. It's about communities expressing or having vital elements that sustain and empower the populace. We agree that these are not part of our current society; therefore our current society needs to change.

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  34. "Soon Socialists will be calling themselves Conservatives. "

    Have you looked at the British Conservative Party lately? They're already at that point.

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  35. "That's why I dislike using the term liberal. It has no meaning these days. Liberalism is well and truly dead. We need to call a spade a spade. Modern liberals are almost without exception socialists. We should call them by their true name."

    Hence the confusion. The basic philosophy of classical liberalism has been taken beyond its intended limits by socialism. I think the modern liberalism that we criticise is consumer socialism (but, is the confusion just the same as with humanism, religion and classical?). Most people understand what you mean if you say 'Liberalism' (in the USA sense), that doesn't mean we shouldn't modify our terminology.

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  36. To be more strictly accurate, the policies of modern liberals promote fascism. An unholy alliance of big business and big government, which is the hallmark of fascism. All power will be divided between government and mega-corporations like Google. And I trust Google even less than I trust the government.

    What appears on the surface to be the triumph of liberalism is in fact the triumph of fascism.

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  37. Jason said...

    "The basic philosophy of classical liberalism has been taken beyond its intended limits by socialism"

    It's not so much that it's been taken beyond its intended limits. It's actually been taken in the opposite direction. A true liberal should hate and despise socialism.

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  38. I was thinking about utilitarianism, scientific progress, political and social freedom (mobility), and the rule of law.

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  39. Wow I did not realize that these guys (or at least this one person) did not even realize what Traditionalism is! I thought they were railing at people who say men ought to be chivalrous despite the breakdown of mores of which feminism is a part. I can see the point of that argument, chivalry seems to me to be something that obligates a certain reciprocal behaviour. It does not exist in a vacuum. It is wrong to act like a victim about it, but the point makes sense.

    But these left liberals and libertarians that are calling themselves MRAs are just odd. AVFM seems to be a big bastion, some very questionable material there which plays right into the whole equality and personal autonomy shtick that feminism is based on. Shame to them, is intrinsically bad, men must not be shamed under any circumstance. They fail to understand that in a functioning society, shame acts to enforce positive codes of behaviour on both sexes. It is not the only force which exerts this effect, but it is an important one.

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  40. Collapse is slow, and the failures of liberalism are becoming manifest now. Do not confuse the progress that the explosion of technology has given us with any real societal health. You MRAs are against feminism but cannot seem to realize that it follows directly from principles established centuries ago. You did not even understand what Traditionalism was, but came along with fully formed complaints based on a strawman. Now the backtracking and deconstruction has started in the effort to find some foothold to argue with. Why have traditionalists not done anything for so long? What a ridiculous question, a simple peer through the last couple of hundred years of history will show you the struggles as they happened.

    We live for perishingly few years, and so our vision is limited to our own frame of mortality. The traditionalist should be able to see history detached from whiggism, be able to see trends in civilization and be able to resolve these with his own particular tradition.

    alcestiseshtemoa you mention that Darwinian evolution should be rejected. I dont understand how that would help. Liberals do not in fact apply Darwinism to themselves. Evolutionary biology and psychology all lead towards reactionary modes of thought as is evidenced by a good portion of current thoughtcrime blogs.

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  41. You fellas seem rather confused as to what you're going to consider a "tradition" and thereby attribute to us. Is it anything that existed in the past? The Holy Roman Empire? You can't have it both ways. Again, if we don't accept that thought and institutions are different, and that valuable things can exist without being properly understood, then all of this will be rather troubling.

    As for us, of course we are arguing for something new, albeit composed of things that have actually existed. Man is not a crab, as Nietzsche noted.

    But let's just get things clear as to your position: you are espousing some form of libertarianism, or perhaps "classical liberalism." To you, modern liberalism just sprung ex nihilo. as if some demon awoke from the depths and sullied what was theretofore pure.

    Well, let's have a look at that:

    --
    Modern liberals want to crush the individual, and they are knowingly the enemies of liberty in the sense that classical liberals meant it.

    Moreover, classical liberals in the late 18th and in the 19th centuries most certainly did NOT think that ALL impediments to individual choice should be removed. They believed in nation, in religion, and in ethnic group, among other things. That's why modern liberals despise them as Christian racists.

    For example, Hobbes, in Leviathan, argued for a commonwealth ruled by an absolute Christian sovereign. This is so alien to the beliefs of a modern liberal that drawing a direct line from Hobbes to modern liberalism is simply laughable.
    --

    Really? You are missing the aspects of Hobbes most salient to the present issue. A Christian sovereign? Remember that Hobbes considered the entire Gospel to be synonymous with "seek peace." That's liberal, not Christian in any sense practiced by real believers.

    The relevant point is that Hobbes recognized no feature of human life independent of individual choice and the state. In the US, the democratic party recently let us know that they think "the government is the only thing that unites us." Soviet communism? Yes, but it was Hobbes long before that.

    Similarly, if you want to admit the reality of the ethnic group, or even the family itself, you'll be hard pressed to find vindication of these things in, say, Locke. There is the individual and the state. Everything else is contingent in its existence as merely "chosen". Of course many of these people bristled at total state control. But left-liberalsm is a natural response because their diagnosis of the problem is shallow and false. What stands in the way of the total state is not autonomous individuals, but families, local groups, and yes, traditions.

    So sure, a return to the original constitutional order would be nice, but to do so on the basis of the exact same (classical liberal) understanding would be ridiculous.

    But you guys don't see this, because your entire worldview is liberal. You seem to think that to question the terms on which the modern state is built is to wish a return to feudalism. But if these are the only alternatives we might just as well give up now.





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  42. I did not realize that these guys (or at least this one person) did not even realize what Traditionalism is!

    I hate to say it, but based on this thread I don't think you "traditionalists" know what it is either. It has never been satisfactorily defined or explained, and there has been bizarrely inexplicable resistance to the idea of "traditionalism" as referring to conditions that prevailed in the past.

    You did not even understand what Traditionalism was, but came along with fully formed complaints based on a strawman.

    The failure is totally YOURS. You have failed to describe yourselves accurately, and you have failed to describe your enemies accurately.

    Personally, I approached this thread with the idea that "traditionalism" is the set of general values, attitudes, and behaviors that existed among middle class folks in the USA, UK, Canada, and Australia from about 1945 to 1965. But apparently traditionalism must refer to something from before the 1600s... with which nobody alive has even the remotest personal experience. A more preposterous and unworkable political and social program can scarcely be imagined.

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  43. But you guys don't see this, because your entire worldview is liberal.

    Actually, YOUR entire worldview is liberal. You are determined to project the worldviews of today back onto the people of the past, such as Hobbes and Locke, for whom the modern worldview is utterly inapplicable. The effort to recast these men as proto-Democrats is hilariously stupid.

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  44. Nah said: But apparently traditionalism must refer to something from before the 1600s... with which nobody alive has even the remotest personal experience. A more preposterous and unworkable political and social program can scarcely be imagined.

    ___________________________________

    I must question your seriousness here. I assume you must be involved with MRA stuff, but somehow you seem to have missed the whole train of `neoreactionary` stuff that is happening alongside it. The manosphere has been part of it, is MRA now completely divorced from its roots? Why do you think they are calling it the Dark Enlightenment? It is because it is a rejection of Enlightenment values. Even Roissy gets this...

    If you believe what you said is Traditionalism, what have MRAs been railing against all this time on blogs? There is no congruity between superficially 1950s style American right liberals and traditionalists! Whether or not you think this is ridiculous, will you accept that you came in attacking something entirely different from what you thought? Surely this should at least give you pause.

    The simplest explanation is that this misconception came from Wikipedia, which is the most convenient resource for pretending expertise in any ideology.

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  45. Nah,

    Rightly or wrongly John Locke is widely regarded as a father of liberalism - for you to think this "hilariously stupid" indicates that you are unaware of his reputation.

    Of course, the received opinion might be wrong. I'd be happy to listen to specific arguments on your part as to why it is wrong - but you don't seem to be aware that you are arguing against academic opinion in this matter.

    (Perhaps you are misunderstanding the term "liberalism": in the U.S. this sometimes refers to the left-wing of politics, whereas elsewhere it tends to be used in a more general philosophical sense.)

    Nah, traditionalism does not refer to a particular time in history. I'm not sure why you are demanding we pick a year. We are certainly not trying to recreate the year 1600. The word refers more to our efforts to defend our own tradition and to carry it forward against the incursions of liberal modernity.

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  46. The anthropology of Hobbes and Locke is the direct ancestor of today's liberalism, regardless of their specific policy recommendations. That they failed to fully work out the implications of their view of human beings is not much to the point.

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  47. Rightly or wrongly John Locke is widely regarded as a father of liberalism - for you to think this "hilariously stupid" indicates that you are unaware of his reputation.

    I know perfectly well who Locke is. And Hobbes too. Sorry, they were not 21st century liberals, and they would find the beliefs of 21st century liberals utterly incomprehensible.

    As I said, this is akin to searching for the roots of liberal ideas in the Bible. Yeah, it's there if you try hard enough, but all you're really doing is projecting today's ideas onto the past, which is a fundamental logical error.

    Not even going to read, much less respond to, "anonymous", since he can't even be bothered to get a handle.

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  48. Nah,

    Nobody said that Locke was a 21st century liberal.

    And it means nothing to say that he wouldn't relate to the liberalism of today. The liberals of the year 1900 would be shocked by the liberalism of today, let alone the intellectual forefathers of liberalism in the 1600s.

    But that is how liberalism has worked. Each generation has pushed it along so far, sometimes to the point that it has been thought to have gone "too far" and there is a pause or even a pulling back, until another generation takes the principles a step further.

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  49. The difficulty of defining liberalism goes away once we start calling modern liberals what they really are - socialists. What we are struggling against is the hijacking of the term liberal by socialists. This goes back a long way. Franklin D. Roosevelt was a socialist, so the Democrats in the US have been socialists since the 1930s.

    The only people today who could conceivably be described as liberals are the libertarians, and politically they're insignificant.

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  50. While I don't think that Nah is necessarily wrong, I do think he is arguing semantics, i.e., including the definition and historical etymology of “traditionalism”. This precludes him from seeing just what is actually being proposed. What he also refuses to acknowledge (albeit the point has never been summarized too well on this blog, which BTW I long ago tried to bring to Mr. Richardson's attention) is that liberalism is the philosophical equivalent of Ouroboros, the worm that eats its own tail.

    Liberalism inherently has no internal limits on its expression in the real world. It is the ultimate incrementalist “philosophy-creep”. It is here that the inevitable illogic and cognitive dissonance of liberalism arises, aided and abetted by unacknowledged lies. To implement each next step of radical autonomy, the State must intervene by grabbing more control to subsidize it and to criminalize the traditions that would otherwise preclude it. Then as radical autonomy metastasizes, society as a whole invariably degenerates. To counteract decay, radical autonomy can be maintained only by socializing responsibility via an all-encompassing State that is allowed potential control of everything for everybody. The result is tyranny where the only freedom left is a cookie-cutter pseudo-individualism of interchangeable parts, but the left must refuse to see this as the ironic and inevitable outcome of forcing its agenda. Fear, thought control, unprincipled exceptions (a la Lawrence Auster), all State organs acting as police, and everything-not-mandatory-is-forbidden become the banality of yet another evil government on this earth.

    To return to Nah's original points, I would suggest that “traditionalism” elicits the wrong kind of connotations, and should be discarded for a more descriptive term that encompasses principles without any baggage of subjective history. And what are such principles? They include decentralism, optimized liberty (NOT freedom), locality, objective morality, and making inviolable by the State principles of not undermining ethnicity, patriarchal family, non-egalitarian Christianity, and a bounded geopolitical nation. As for the descriptive term, I don't yet know what would be appropriate, although perhaps “optimalism” or “immutalism” could be an interim choice.

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  51. While I don't think that Nah is necessarily wrong, I do think he is arguing semantics, i.e., including the definition and historical etymology of “traditionalism”.

    That definition is fundamentally important. As I said, what tradition are you defending / advocating? I still don't know what you guys think "traditionalism" is! If you can't even define your goals in a simple manner that is readily understandable to someone who is sympathetic to you (me), how will you win over the indifferent, let alone the hostile?

    I would suggest that “traditionalism” elicits the wrong kind of connotations, and should be discarded for a more descriptive term that encompasses principles without any baggage of subjective history.

    That would be nice. To the extent that it matters. All opposition to liberalism will eventually be saddled with what liberals think is the ultimate historical baggage: "Fascism!"

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  52. I may be wrong but, for me, liberalism is the worldview born from the Enlightenment where society is composed by individuals which give power to the State so they can live in society. All entities between the individual and the State (family, religion, ethnic group) are secondary and only valid as long as they are useful for the individual or the State. The traditions that were the received wisdom from ancient societies and consecrated these intermediary entities are rejected and replaced by so-called "rational thought" (in reality, half-baked ideas that were thought by an intellectual and sound well but they don't work in practice).

    Liberalism comes from the rejection of the Christian tradition that came before. Over this tradition, Western civilization was founded.

    As I have said, liberalism comes from the Enlightenment and the intellectual elite has been liberal for two hundred years, whether left-liberal (emphasizing State) or right-liberal (emphasizing the individual)

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  53. So to answer, some questions asked by Nah.

    If liberalism is so wrong, why has it lasted for so long?

    The fact is that the masses were not liberal until the 50s or the 60s (the 80s in my country). The vast majority of the society was still Christian and adhered to Christian tradition. Only mass media and the pill were able to spread the liberal mindset of the elites to the people. While a society based on Christian tradition has lasted thousands of years, the society based on liberalism has lasted some decades and we are already declining.

    Which is the tradition traditionalists adhere to?

    It's the Christian tradition that created Western civilization. This is hard because many people don't believe anymore. As a last stand, we can struggle for the basic elements of tradition: monogamy, patriarchy, family, religion, defense of one's nation and ethnic group. These are shared from all traditions from Christian, to Muslim, to Buddhist. Because tradition is only another name for civilization. Only Western people living during the last decades are unable to see this as evident and true. The madman thinks everyone else is mad.

    My name is imnobody and I am the author of the last two comments

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  54. "Only mass media and the pill were able to spread the liberal mindset of the elites to the people."

    More to the point, it's the fact that those elites spent so much energy infiltrating the mass media and the education system. It took them half a century, from the 1930s to the 1980s. Now they're firmly in control. Only they're not liberals, they're Marxists, and the liberalism is just a disguise. The people have now been thoroughly indoctrinated in Marxism although they don't even realise it. There are so many people who think they are liberals but in fact their beliefs are in all essentials Marxist.

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  55. Dfordoom,

    The timing doesn't work right for Australia.

    The Australian elite gave up its tradition in the early 1940s, well before any Gramscian march through the institutions.

    I do agree that Marxism had some real influence on the left at this time and was part of the explanation for why a tipping point was reached.

    But the political right was no better. Even the "right-wing of the right" in Australia in the 1950s was uninterested in conserving its own tradition.

    Gramsci is not a sufficient explanation.

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  56. Why did liberalism last so long?

    i) It did not rule entirely on its own terms until recent decades. Prior to this it allowed other sources of value, e.g. Christianity, aristocratic ideals to influence society.

    ii) It (mostly) avoided a radical all-at-once implentation of its principles.

    iii) It had a strong social base in the aristocratic grandees, the bourgeoisie and the non-conforming churches (the grandees were interested in constraining the power of the crown)

    iv) the success of the scientific revolution added to its prestige and power

    v) it left the private sphere largely alone until the mid-1800s.

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  57. "The Australian elite gave up its tradition in the early 1940s, well before any Gramscian march through the institutions."

    What the elite believes is entirely irrelevant. The opinions of a few chardonnay-sipping layabouts in Surry Hills living on Australia Council grants, or a few bicycle-riding vegetarian lesbians in Leichhardt, are of no consequence. When the opinions of these loonies are accepted without question by the vast majority of the population, then you've got a real problem. That didn't start to happen in Australia until the late 1960s.

    I'm not old enough to remember the Menzies era but I am old enough to remember when John Gorton was Prime Minister. At that time most traditional values in regard to marriage, patriotism, etc, were still generally accepted. A political leader at that time who advocated silliness like gay marriage or global warming would have been laughed out of the political arena. At that time, the late 1960s, traditional values were only just starting to crumble. And the rot certainly started in the universities and in places like the ABC.

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  58. In fact, when I defined liberalism, I included every ideology born from the ideas of the Enlightenment. I am using "liberalism" in the broadest sense of the word.

    Right-liberalism (what we call "the right") is son of these ideas. Left-liberalism (Marxism) is developed from these ideas too (for example, Rousseau had a lot of ideas that Marxism made popular).

    Replacing God and tradition by the individual and the State is the core of liberalism. But there are differences about the role given to the individual and to the State. If you give more power to the individual, you have libertarianism. If you give more power to the State, you have Communism. A lot of intermediary positions exist.

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  59. Completely agree with the last dfordoom comment. In my country, the change was during the 80s so I am old enough to have been witness of it.

    When I was a child, I remember my country as a traditional society. Then, the political regime changed and media and education were taken over by the left-wing intellectuals.

    I have been witness of the destruction of a tradition that had lasted thousands of years. It took only some 20 years.

    It was not a bottom-up change but a top-down change. The elites managed to impose their crazy worldview to the people.

    So to see traditionalism, I don't have to go back to the Holy Roman Empire (as Nah said). It is enough for me to remember my youth.

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  60. The elites managed to impose their crazy worldview to the people.

    Agree entirely. Even in the early 1980s, it was still possible to live in a relatively traditional way across most of Australia. We remember!

    But the commitment of the elite to liberalism goes back a long way. Things were damaged at that level for many decades in Australia.

    For instance, modernism hit the arts in Australia relatively late, but it was there by the early 1940s (leading to the famous Angry Penguins incident).

    The Sydney intellectual scene was dominated by Andersonianism which began in the 1920s and had helped to form the radical Push in the 1950s which itself produced some of the key figures of the left-wing counterculture in the 1960s.

    In the 1940s there was a struggle between the Catholic Church and the Communist Party for the allegiance of intellectuals, the Labor Party and the unions. Many of the Labor Party leaders had been brought up as socialists in the early years of the 1900s (e.g. they attended Socialist Sunday schools).

    More generally in the West the middle decades of the 1900s was when nihilism in high culture reached a peak - though it had begun from at least the 1880s.

    It's true that in the 1950s marriage and fertility rates returned to healthy levels, but this was after decades of decline during the very long period of first wave feminism.

    The Labor Party had committed Australia to a new multicultural identity from the early 1940s and the Liberal Party oversaw the beginnings of this in the post-war decades.

    So traditional Australia was in a very vulnerable position throughout the 1900s and from mid-century the writing was on the wall.

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  61. Imnobody said...

    "It took only some 20 years."

    That is the scary thing. It only takes three generations. In the first generation the elites adopt the crazy idea. In the second generation schoolteachers and journalists get indoctrinated. In the third generation everybody gets indoctrinated.

    And the really scary part is that no-one even notices it until it's too late.

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  62. Mark Richardson said...

    "More generally in the West the middle decades of the 1900s was when nihilism in high culture reached a peak - though it had begun from at least the 1880s"

    The First World War had a huge impact. For many people it was the event that discredited the traditional order, and it made nihilism a mass phenomenon rather than just a fad for the artistic elite. It's possible that if the First World War had been avoided western civilisation would not have been doomed.

    Then came the Great Depression. It was the combined impact of these two events coming so close together that really did the damage. The war made nihilism seem attractive and respectable and the Depression made Marxism seem attractive and respectable.

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  63. Dfordoom,

    Yes, I think you're right on the effects of WWWI and the Great Depression.

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