Happiness, or Tradition? Or, Neither?

Neither, apparently. Behold modernism – the notion that we can simply choose what is good, and then take it for ourselves, the sin of Adam – summed in five words: “We choose happiness over tradition.”

We Choose Happiness Over Tradition

Brought to us all by Coca Cola, which if we buy and consume it faithfully in the pursuit of the happiness it offers, will give us diabetes and obesity, and kill us. So demographic and personal suicide declare their identity, and sympathy. All thanks to Madison Avenue for the moral clarity.

There is to be sure no contradiction between tradition and happiness, although only a moral idiot would err to think that the former can be relied upon to produce the latter, or for that matter that happiness is a goal in itself to be aimed at, rather than a byproduct of righteousness. But the rejection of tradition does rule out happiness, as joy attendant upon agreement with reality, and – implicit in such agreement – fealty thereto. You cannot reject the order of being and feel good about it, even if you do indeed feel some good along the way. The *only* way to feel truly good is to *be* truly good. And this cannot be done in contravention to the order that the Good himself has established for all being.


34 thoughts on “Happiness, or Tradition? Or, Neither?

  1. Pingback: Happiness, or Tradition? Or, Neither? | Neoreactive

  2. Pingback: Happiness, or Tradition? Or, Neither? | Reaction Times

  3. As anyone who has raised children knows, the sugar-high is invariably followed by the sugar-tantrum, which is followed in turn by the sugar-coma. The image is mendacious in only showing the sugar-high.

  4. “We choose a plaything to prey upon over your stinkin’ tradition!”

    The fact that degenerates have so quickly knocked down the barriers that prevented them from getting their hands on innocent children is a travesty, and would have been unimaginable only a short time ago. The most disturbing thing is their hubris, the way that the Moderns will shove their values in our faces, baring their maggot-infested cultural wounds as badges of honor. And they think that sane men will forever ‘tolerate’ them, that they will always have a vast system of protections against the servants of God and virtue. How wrong they are.

    And if they do reach their natural deaths before the judgment of human civilization to come, then they surely cannot escape the judgment of the Lord that waits beyond the grave.

    “And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

    Revelation 20:11-15

    • The fact that degenerates have so quickly knocked down the barriers that prevented them from getting their hands on innocent children is a travesty

      No it isn’t. The travesty here is that “Christians” have stood by and let this happen, without so much as a real fight.

      • What do you expect? They’ve been taught to do things by the democratic system, by the book, by the Constitution. I can only blame the passive churches in this regard. Remember that originally, religious authorities were lockstep with the Monarchy in opposing the Enlightenment, but they buckled. Alas, it was fated. Once things were set in motion, nothing was going to stop them from reaching their end, only a delay could be achieved.

        However, they do reach a definite end, and when that end comes, I see the goal of the Reactionary project to be preparing for the regime to come. The real fight will be there.

  5. It’s important to remember that traditions are morally neutral things. Every creative new act of depravity today will be yet another venerable societal tradition a century in the future. We’re in the sad position we’re in today because most right-wingers see venerable traditions like democracy, individualism, and classic liberalism as beautiful bedrocks rather than unhelpful deviations from God’s will. When you consider the scene in the garden between Adam, Eve, and the serpent, one could almost say that rebellion against God is the very oldest tradition in existence.

    The Coke ad could more accurately, and more damningly say ‘we choose happiness over righteousness, obedience, and freedom from sin.’

    • True. Man cannot live without some tradition or other, and will naturally start with the traditions he inherits. But the way you get whacked traditions in the first place is by choosing (what seems like) happiness over tradition. Entailed in the tradition of Adamic sinfulness was knowledge of sin’s sinful nature, its painful wages, and abhorrence of it; so that the tradition of repenting of sin and repudiating it began with sin itself.

    • Hence why I always try to capitalize the word Tradition when referring to pre-Enlightenment modes of society, rather than the general term ‘tradition’, which can mean just any long-accepted practice.

  6. But, … Kristor, all men are endowed with the right to pursue happiness over Tradition/Truth! I mean, it’s in the Declaration for goodness sakes! 😉

    • If only Jefferson had written instead that all men are endowed with the right to pursue righteousness. Happiness is not possible without righteousness. It can’t be gotten by its pursuit. It can be gotten only by the pursuit of righteousness.

      • Or, the pursuit of happiness through righteousness. There we go! Would that a few of the other signers had had your insight!

      • But here’s the thing: if you pursue righteousness in order to get happiness, you are still barking up the wrong tree, and you won’t get what you want. Why? Because righteousness does not guarantee happiness, at least as the world and the naïve moral imagination of the young understand happiness. Happiness is fool’s gold. As the word itself makes clear, it is just something that happens from time to time, and then passes, as fleeting as a bluebird.

        We can’t buy happiness with our acts. The best we can do is arrange our lives and live them righteously; this has the side effect of leading to greater prosperity and health, deeper more loving relationships, holiness of life and serenity of mind, wisdom and prudence, and so forth. I.e., it has the side effect of increasing the likelihood that our lives will be pleasant, and that we shall be content, so that we feel happy more often.

        But disaster looms for all of us; everyone will lose all that Job did, sooner or later; aye, and more. Righteousness then will be the only thing left to us.

        And this means that it is really the only thing left to us right now. It’s righteousness, or nothing, always. This is part of what is meant by “the wages of sin is death.” To depart from righteousness is to depart from being.

  7. the rejection of tradition does rule out happiness, as joy attendant upon agreement with reality, and – implicit in such agreement – fealty thereto. You cannot reject the order of being and feel good about it,

    I am baffled by this idea that “tradition” is automatically equated with “the order of being”, as if humanity did not invent new ways of being for itself all of the time. The invention of agriculture was a complete break with traditional societies, as were later technological revolutions. Abraham, Moses, and Jesus all represent radical breaks with the tradition of their times. Overthrowing tradition is what people do — not always with great results, god knows. But good luck trying to freeze human society into some artificial stasis.

    • You raise an important point. A tradition is an effectual proposal by a society that the cosmos is ordered in a certain way, and that (since it behooves us to coordinate our actions so that together they, and we, are meet and right to the circumstances) we ought therefore to behave in such and such a way. It is a tool for living, a bit of hard-won wisdom, bought in blood by our forefathers.

      As products of fallible humans, however, traditions can be mistaken. They can become obsolete, or muddled by errors and confusion as they are reproduced from generation to generation. So we have politics, trade, language, writing, history, science; these are ways we help each other understand what is happening, what our policies have been, and what they ought to be. Human discourse is mostly about what is not working so well, and how it ought to be fixed. Because there are always problems of some sort, our conversations with each other constantly generate suggestions for novel policies.

      But most innovations are non-starters, and never get off the drawing board. Those that do are subjected to the scythe of experience, and most do not survive it. We only hear about the most successful policies, and most of them too eventually die in due course. Pain arising from poor coordination of acts to reality redounds to mistaken policies, and prompts their correction – or else, deletes them altogether, with their human hosts. The fate of the Shaker sect is a good example. The Shakers forswear sex, and ergo reproduction. Back in the 19th Century, there were about 5,000 of them. As of 2010 there were four.

      If we have ears to hear, the fate of the Shakers tells us something important about the demographic prospects of any proposal that discourages reproduction. Contraception, abortion, homosexuality, the destruction of marriage, and so forth, all spell disaster for those who practice them, and thus must result eventually in their almost complete disappearance. These novel contraventions of ancient traditions – some of which date back to the very beginning of sexual reproduction – are autophagous. You can’t stop having babies and expect that your notion that it is good not to have babies is going to prosper down through the decades.

      The traditions of our forefathers are not an infallible guide, but as having survived the scythe of experience for hundreds of years, they are as it were stamped by the order of being, and reflect it as the wax reflects the seal; they are really apposite to it, and therefore apt to us. We reject them at our peril.

      • Huh, I am in almost complete agreement! I have absolutely no problem with the idea of traditions as tools — tools may be employed as situations call for and individuals see fit. Yes, most innovations fail; that is the nature of innovation, but you don’t want to suppress innovation, that is cultural death.

        Your logic about reproduction leaves something to be desired. The Shakers solved their own problem by dying out, but homosexuality has approximately nothing in common with them. One of the main points of gay marriage is not to destroy marriage or cripple reproduction, but to allow gay couples to raise kids.

        Here’s a tangent — it seems to me that the best way to encourage reproduction, if for some reason you think there isn’t enough of them, is with a very robust welfare state that makes it possible for parents to take time off from work to raise a family without worrying so much about financial risk. The US is singularly stingy in this regard, one of only three countries in the world with no law guaranteeing paid maternity leave. Would you support a proposal to improve this?

      • A.morphous, you’re a Burkean and you didn’t even know it. Traditions are indeed tools. The questions then are what tool to use for the job at hand, and how. One doesn’t use a screwdriver to chisel, or grasp a knife by the blade.

        Guaranteed paid maternity leave: No. Forcing businesses or taxpayers to reimburse maternity is a bad policy, with bad policy effects (e.g., among many others, increasing the barriers to entry into any business, thus depressing the demand for labor and reducing the competitive pressure on larger, existing enterprises), that is designed to correct for the damage to society inflicted by another bad policy, with bad policy effects: the non-discrimination laws. Employers ought to be allowed to hire the people they want to hire, and ought not to be forced to hire people they don’t want to hire. There would be no need for paid maternity leave if women could be discriminated against in hiring. Why? Because most employers would prefer to hire men, who will not leave after a few years of expensive training to stay at home and raise children, exactly what they ought to have been doing in the first place. If employers were allowed to hire whomever they wished, women would be more inclined to stay out of the work force, reducing the supply of labor and increasing wages for the men who remained in the work force, so that they could more easily afford to support a wife and children. This would restore the family and increase fertility.

        Most policy suggestions try to compensate for one bad policy by adding another, which then soon calls for another, and then another, etc. ad infinitum. Just delete the whole stack of bad policy, including the howler at the root of the mess, and start over with something different – but not, of course, until after you have waited a while for society to adjust to the removal of all the artificial constraints introduced by the stack of bad policies, so that you can then see if the problem that the original policy was intended to address is still a problem in the first place.

        It seems odd to characterize the demise of the Shakers as a solution to their problem of surviving and reproducing – by that logic, suicide would be a successful therapy for colds – but one of the great benefits of nominalism is I suppose that you can make terms mean whatever you want, and no nominalist interlocutor can have grounds to complain thereat.

        Homosexuality has at least this in common with Shaker celibacy: it removes the DNA of homosexuals from the gene pool, and frustrates the memetic reproduction of homosexualist ideas. So like Shaker celibacy it is self-destructive, albeit less quickly and decisively. But compared to normal sexuality, homosexuality has a very tough demographic row to hoe. It just doesn’t work out very well in practice, whether for the individual homosexual or for his society. Along with abortion, contraception, promiscuity, paederasty, and deprecation of children, it played a huge role in the catastrophic demographic collapse of Classical civilization, which would have ended far sooner but for the moral strictness and reproductive success of the Christians and Jews.

        In the poor biological prospects of homosexuality, we see the order of being and the nature of man stamping their form into the traditional structure of human society. The valorization of homosexuality disagrees with nature; its repudiation does not. This fact is not of human invention.

      • The cosmos seeks happiness in snuffing out the homosexual. The homosexual seeks happiness in snuffing out the cosmos.

      • Gay couples don’t raise kids, for the most part. The ones that do are a statistical rounding error, even among the population of gays themselves. And you’re just wrong about maternity leave increasing fecundity. It can drive a small increase in TFR at the margins, but it’s an expensive gambit to have a few more babies at the margins who do not turn into super-taxpayers to compensate.

        Countries with generous maternity leave generally go in one of two directions: many to most of the women have one or two kids and work part-time/mommy track all their lives, or women face a tradeoff between hard-charging career dame with 0 kids or having 2-4, usually 2-3 while husband works full time and the family collects moderate baby bounties for mom to stay home with them. I am handwaving the impacts of immigration to focus on what native-born women tend to do in such countries. But the latter choice is not made by very many women, so the TFR tends to remain low in such nations.

        Practical natalism doesn’t involve shoving the women into the corporate workforce en masse at all. It involves making it easier for women to stay home and help each other raise children and keep house while also welcoming children into the public sphere.

      • Gay parents raising kids together: of those gays who raise children together in their gay homes, 84% of them contain children that are products of those gays folks’ heterosexual biological activities. So, not all gays are born that way, I guess. I suppose their former heterosexual activities were just a cover? Or is their “newly rediscovered sexual identity” just a cover after their failed marriage caused them to hate men?

      • “Gays don’t raise kids, for the most part.”

        He wasn’t saying they do. He was pointing out that the push towards gay “marriage” is intended, in part, to give gay couples the legal option of raising kids if they so desire; he is assuming many of them that currently don’t will take that option once gay “marriage” becomes the supreme law of the land. And he’s very probably right, the number will increase. Which to him is good because it is also a main thrust of liberalism to destroy traditional hierarchies and the values that undergird them. But to us this is tragic – the kind of policy only an insane, self-destructive, nihilistic culture could ever get behind enough for it to go off virtually without a hitch.

  8. “… if the problem that the original policy was intended to address is still a problem in the first place.”

    Or if it *ever was* a problem in the first place.

    Your description of what most policy decisions now entail is spot on! As I’ve said many times before, the government of the reigning ideology is very good at one thing, if at nothing else: creating problems that before didn’t exist.

    It begins by addressing a manufactured, or greatly exaggerated problem. This creates several problems which the government feels obliged to address. Now we have six problems instead of one. The five additional problems create twenty-five more problems, and so on and so forth, ad infinitum as you say. Liberalism is incapable of dealing correctly (by your formula) with any of this because it is “madness, borne of a refusal to be wrong.”

    • It might be useful to distinguish between Tradition and regimes. Liberalism is a regime. The two “daddies” in the photograph are poster-boys for the current regime.

  9. Is this the new “New Coke?”

    In a case like this, it is helpful to ask what is being advertised and why.

    I, for one, am happy to live without Coca Cola and most, if not all, of their products.

  10. And yet, “happiness” in the liberal context actually equates to a forcefully extorted guiltlessness for personally desired acts of degeneracy. One of the all time favorite memes of deception propagated by the self-annihilator is in the lie that he does not desire self-annihilation. So the “big lie” of our time is that homos are real fathers/men. That’s the real subversive intent of this particular ad. So the marketing is aimed squarely at sexually ordered white males who are instinctively repulsed by the absurdity of homosexual “fathers/men” and are thus in need of a psychological conversion that renders the hidden guilt of the self-annihilator obsolete. Here then the self-annihlator obtains happiness through submission of tradition.

  11. The meaning of the word happiness itself tends to change. When people at work ask “Are you happy with this solution?” they just mean “Can you live with it? Is it tolerable?” It is indeed remarkable that in an age where people are given almost complete freedom to make an utopia for themselves, the result is usually, at best, tolerable.
    From a purely scientific (read: atheist) angle, the naive-liberal theory that people have preferences and those need to be satisfied and then everybody is happy is simply not tenable anymore. We have a growing brain science of motivation, and that is not what it says.
    More info:

  12. Pingback: Mad Men was a depraved and decadent show that gave us an incredible portrayal of humanity. | The Mitrailleuse

  13. Ummmm…

    Isn’t it a little ironic that this ad is being put out by Coke…

    Which is, itself, an American TraditionTM?

    I mean, it would make more sense for Pepsi to run it, as Pepsi is the competing alternative to the entrenched tradition that is Coca Cola. There are even regions in America where I have known people to refer generically to soda/pop/etc as coke – even if they don’t want coke!

    Sorry this is a bit off of your main focus, but it just jumped right out at me! Kind of seems like a confused ad to me, seeing as Coke benefits from its tradition as classic americana.

  14. Pingback: This Week in Reaction (2015/05/24) | The Reactivity Place

  15. Pingback: Ireland first, with the United States not far behind | The Mitrailleuse


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