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Warum gibt es keinen Traditionalismus in den USA?

Tradition makes us what we are. The institutions that are dominant today want to make us more manageable as human resources, so they destroy all traditions but those of consumerist careerism. The latter, of course, include pluralism and inclusiveness.

People usually don’t like it when things that are close to them are attacked for someone else’s benefit. So why doesn’t everyone join the traditionalists and overthrow the technocrats?

The situation has a variety of causes. As I’ve argued, a big one is that the current system of social power is strongly supported by the current system of thought, which says that things don’t have natures, traditions don’t have authority, and the whole world is basically a resource to be used to achieve the goals of whoever’s making the decisions.

Still, that kind of grandiose theory isn’t everything, and there are less overarching explanations for what we see around us, One worth mentioning is that public life today is generally secular. That’s a problem, because non-confessional traditionalism has no way to determine which version of which tradition is authoritative.

The result is that it loses direction. That’s an obvious issue with English conservatism. The break with Rome left it no way to maintain a definite focus so it became mostly a matter of doing the done thing. Leftist demands eventually change what’s done, so in the long run the whole approach falls apart. The same problem accounts for the ineffectiveness of the conservatism of polite and educated people in general.

American conservatism is mostly populist, so it avoids the Scylla of gentility, but avoiding Scylla has its own problems. Americans are go-getters, which means that American conservatism favors will over being. To be slightly more concrete, it appeals to independence and individualistic self-assertion, combined with team spirit regarding the role of America in the world. Those tendencies mean American conservatives aren’t sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, and that’s a good thing, but they’re not a good basis for an overall political tendency.

Another problem is that the decline of coherent tradition makes people try to come up with substitutes to provide them with a general orientation. A lot of young non-mainstream righties are mostly into libertarianism or something like white nationalism. Save the white race by abolishing the Fed. That’s a step forward from hipster liberalism, but it won’t restore civilization. Freedom and inheritance matter, but they don’t make sense as final standards.

A final problem, that’s become very practical when I’ve actually tried to organize something, is personal conflicts. People who buck the general direction of opinion are sometimes not very clubbable. And those who believe in authority, but don’t accept a definite way to determine what’s authoritative, eventually become a collection of popes fulminating mutual excommunications.

So I’m pretty pessimistic about any non-confessional traditionalist right. What about the religionists?

I don’t know much about paleoprotestants or the Orthodox, so they’ll have to speak for themselves. As to Catholic trads, they seem to focus on specifically Catholic things that are often very particular more than grand civilizational considerations. There’s more interest in holding on to whatever toehold they have and grousing about Cardinal X or papal pronouncement Y than a global or even localized reconquista.

Such statements are of course unfair to many, and if the nonpolitical is fundamental it should indeed come first. What we need most of all is not a political movement but something more basic. Still, public problems are worth noting, and if there are signs of public hope they’re worth mentioning as well. I’m Catholic, and I see signs of hope in Catholicism. Others will have to speak for themselves.

On the day-to-day level there are parishes with a strong trad presence and the parish life reflects that. There are also loose networks of Catholic homeschoolers. Some people choose where to live based on that kind of consideration. There are even networks of trad Catholic intellectuals that get together to talk now and then.

It seems to me those sectors have growth possibilities. After Vatican II the Church decided to make nice with the modern secular world. It hasn’t worked, and I think the momentum within the Church is shifting from liberal to conservative and from neo to paleo.

At the most basic level, people need a way to live that makes sense. That’s not much on offer these days, and assimilated American Catholicism doesn’t fill the gap. So during the coming years, as the secular society continues to unravel, I’d expect somewhat separatist and distinctively traditionalist Catholic communities to continue to grow up around parishes offering the Old Mass, which the current Pope has made possible, and around new schools and colleges that emphasize traditional Catholicism.

That could be a version of the Benedictine option—local communities of religious cranks (to use the current lingo) that are coherent enough, and deal with the human condition well enough, to maintain civilization through a dark age. And if “dark age” turns out to be too apocalyptic, they could still provide a rallying point for forces opposed to current tendencies.

What exists now may not seem like much, but in bad times it’s more important to find principles that seem like they work than extrapolate current trends, which won’t last anyway. Catholics have a fundamental advantage in their principle of authority, which gives them a usable bottom-line principle of resistance, and their emphasis on concrete local communities like parishes. (Others, of course, may have similar or other advantages, so examples from readers would be welcome.)

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So what happened to Firing Line? A largely rhetorical question… but, and Buckley’s famous assertion about the first 1000 (??) names in the Boston phone book notwithstanding, there was a time, in living memory (yours and mine), when the most famous conservative in America was widely respected, made no apologies for his elitist tendencies, was widely considered not to be an idiot, and (the coup!!) came into our homes each week due to the principled (nearly puritanical) fairness of Public Television, one of the principal monuments and fortifying institutions of American Leftism.

Today, this is utterly gone. Not only gone, but largely forgotten. Conservatism, today mostly degenerated into right liberalism, is now uniformly (and more or less accurately) deemed populist, unsophisticated, and provincial. And its well-compensated mouth-pieces (e.g., Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity) only tend to prove their critics right, and (in spite of their being more or less correct on any number of issues) simultaneously manage to drive the level of public discourse down to the level of spit-wad fights. And that is, really, not conservative. For what does such a cabal intend to conserve, except perhaps ratings or juicy scraps from liberalism’s ever expanding table. It’s just tribal politics, and not even really tribal since the entirety of the establishment right either ignores or genuinely disbelieves human biodiversity. I mean I was just over reading something at Crooked Timber, and somebody was saying, without nuance or qualification, something about the “right wing globalists”… They don’t even know actual conservatism exists. It’s as though Rupert Murdock == Right Wing (and vice-versa!).

So I say all that to say: Where’s the new Buckley? Traditionalist conservatives have many capable voices (and perhaps not un-telligenic faces), all of which go largely unheard. I’m sure Public TV, never truer to their high-minded principles, would welcome back Firing Line, or some articulate variation thereof. What’s missing is the face and voice to be attached to it. Someone that can rise of above the idiotic echo chamber of Fox News, and actually tell white proles why they’re so pissed. I mean the Tea Partiers really do have every reason to be pissed, but they are usually quite incapable of stating the real reasons why. They are getting shafted, but have no idea actually how. I say a New Buckley appearing each week on Public (Freaking) TV would go a long way to focus and educate all this manic energy in the otherwise largely productive and self-sufficient prole caste…. and then the Left will really have something to fear, instead of the cartoon boogeymen they now (genuinely or otherwise) fear… and that really will be progress.

I’m doubtful. It seems to me that what’s allowed in public discussion has narrowed since the 60s, when Buckley founded his program. PC is real. Our highest public principles are equality and nondiscrimination. They are intrinsically aggressive, and ignore obvious realities. It’s inevitable that they limit what can be said more and more as time goes by. Is PBS really going to be more devoted to fairness than the academic world? Fairness to whom and judged by whose standards?

(Parenthetically, how serious was Firing Line really? I mostly remember a lot of banter. Certainly nothing for left-wingers to worry about. But then it’s been a while.)

Rem tene, verba sequentur.

The reaction to the status quo that one finds amongst the Reformed (Calvinist) is about as mixed as I think the situation is amongst Roman Catholics.

Many traditionalist Reformed folk favour homeschooling or parochial education, and that is a hopeful sign, insofar as it keeps them free from pernicious toxic liberalism in the public school system. Also encouraging is a strong desire on the part of most to marry within the fold, and even within the race in many cases, thus the tribe is preserved. And many traditional practices continue in the home life - women preparing food and cleaning up almost exclusively within ethnically Dutch heritage families, and men leading their families in Scripture reading, prayer, and psalm / hymn singing. Alas, though, only a few question things to a great degree, and so there is an unfortunate degree of acceptance of certain aspects of today’s world, esp. young women opting to focus on education and career rather than preparation for marriage and motherhood, and few desiring to be full-time homemakers.

Here and there, one finds a few whose degree of questioning of how our world is today is more thorough, but unfortunate, they tend towards crankism, buying into some British Israelist type notions, and/or theocratic tendencies. (Such is, to an extent, traditional - see the Scots Covenanters, for example, and of course, the Puritans, and Calvin’s Geneva, and early post-Spanish Netherlands.)