We can jaw till the cows come home about how to reform the social order so that it works better, and in so doing improve our own understandings, and those of our fellows, so that we jointly decide matters in such a way as to restore a more humane, realistic and successful social order. Such discourse is not only edifying, but can nerve us to action. We could even implement a lot of quite sensible reforms – indeed, it is within the realm of possibility that all the outward forms of an ideal traditional society could be implemented, sometime after the Collapse of the Liberal Order, when men are casting about for a better way. That would be good!
Political acts can truly make the world a bit better, at the margin, than it would otherwise be.
But in the absence of a fairly widespread metanoia, a spiritual awakening and change of heart, all the clever and salutary reforms in the world will not secure for us a robust and durable traditional society, that reliably supports true human flourishing. They might slow the rot, but cannot heal it; cannot procure for us a healthy body politic.
A merely secular order, that does not consciously refer its ends, forms, and significations to the ultimate source of all order and meaning, has severed itself from the root of all things, and must therefore soon err, and stray, and perish.
Policy then, and politics, are all well and good, but only insofar as they are informed by sacred tradition. Traditions likewise can be good, and so can work and perdure, but only insofar as they are fitted to reality; i.e., to Reality. A profane tradition is in the end a fake tradition, mere handwaving in the right general direction.
The only truly efficacious thing that we can do then is promote sacred tradition by actually implementing it. A hale and sturdy society, a just and flourishing society, can come about only if more and more lives are ordered according to the Good – starting with our own. And this proper ordination of souls and lives to the Good is not something that can be brought about by policy reforms that make it easier or more rewarding to be virtuous, or harder or more painful to be vicious. Such rerforms will do no good at all if men are inveterately wicked, and like to be that way. If the 20th century has made anything clear, it is that state intervention to make men better is a losing bet.
Policy won’t do the trick. To think it can is to fall prey to the modernist utopian fantasy. No; if things are to get really better, we must each of us buckle down and get on with working out our own salvation in fear and trembling. Nothing less can quite do. Whatever else we are doing to promote a hale and goodly social order, it behooves us each to get started toward our own spiritual rebirth. We must implement orthodoxy as orthopraxy. A virtuous life is after all the strongest, sweetest, most alluring argument we can make.
Fortunately, there are still living sacred traditions out there, to whose adepts we may turn for instruction and support, and which we can in turn succor and magnify by our participation.
… unless we reverse the premises of the type of thought and action whose ascendancy in our consciousness has led us to produce the techno-scientific inferno in which we find ourselves, we will not escape the disaster towards which it is ineluctably propelling us. For it is quite clear that no amount of taking thought, no amount of scheming and deliberation, discussion and conference, is of the slightest use while the fundamental categories within which the mind itself operates remain unchanged.
It has to be recognized that the real question before us is not, as we often like to think, this, that, or the other thing, but only whether we choose submission to the best of what we are, to the divine in us, or whether we do not. The issue is one of freedom, but of freedom to choose between obedience to what is superior or domination by what is inferior. If we cut ourselves off from what is superior we automatically fall under the sway of what is inferior. That is the punishment.
— Philip Sherrard, Christianity: Lineaments of a Sacred Tradition