The astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle (1915 – 2001) shocked his colleagues in the 1960s and 70s by refusing to endorse the then-prevailing negentropic view of the cosmos according to which the fate of everything was to come to a halt in the patternless state of heat-death. Hoyle advocated a “steady-state” cosmos in which matter was being constantly renewed and the state of heat-death thus indefinitely postponed. Today the negentropic cosmos has been replaced by the singularity cosmos, which commences in the proverbial Big Bang, expands to a limit, contracts back into a singularity, and then blows itself up again in a new Big Bang – endlessly. Of course, within the cycle of any singularity entropy is still the rule.
Entropy is a rule for the modern liberal mind, too, which, idolizing but badly understanding physics, thinks of everything in purely physical, or natural, terms, including culture. This transfer of terms from one area of discourse to another, from nature to culture, represents a grave error whose effects on culture have been gross and deleterious.
Culture is so much not nature that it might be called counternature. The most important way in which culture differs from nature (supposing for the sake of argument that nature is as modern liberal people suppose it to be) is that culture is consciously negentropic. Culture deliberately pitches itself against the natural tendency of everything to find the lowest possible level and the least possible degree of internal differentiation. Culture, by contrast, makes differences. In doing so, culture breasts the stream of natural undifferentiation.
Culture is active, collective memory. In language, for example, which is possibly the primordial cultural institution, to which all others are related, the meanings of words are fixed. Only in their fixity can words cross the threshold from one generation to the next in such a way that the discoveries of one generation can become the heritage of the next; and only in this way can a tradition consolidate itself that makes it possible for new generations not to have to begin again at some degree zero of social development. The ideas of preservation, conservation, and curation are implicit in the idea of culture, which maintains itself, through the active cooperation of its successive beneficiaries, by resisting change.
The will to resist change is therefore essential to any healthy culture; and by the corollary, all culturally healthy people will suspicious of change and reluctant to accept it. This is not to say that a culture never changes. Cultures do change. Some of them die off. There is no Phrygian or Rhaetian culture today. Those cultures died off centuries ago, leaving only a few traces which belong to the vernacular of no living culture. Only specialist-researchers know anything about them. Cultures may change in other, less drastic ways; they may adjust themselves or accept external influence or discard usages that no longer seem relevant. It remains the case, however, that every concession brings the culture closer to an unavoidable point of unfamiliarity, for which the real name is death.
The modern liberal mentality despises permanency and believes that change is so desirable that efforts must be undertaken to change everything in the inherited order as swiftly as possible– and then, presumably, to change everything once again, ad infinitum. Liberals call this program of perpetual alteration progress or revolution, but its real name, once again, is death, which is why sane people oppose it. The modern liberal hatred of difference, for example, is formally indistinguishable from the modern liberal worship of entropy or – to give it its real name – death.
There is a sweet liberal rhetoric which argues the the justification of change is to make culture less artificial and more natural. The appeal is truer than it can know.
In taking a stand against the conformism of the flow, Traditionalists also take a stand against change and against death. Culture is the human project for overcoming death. Liberalism is the Alzheimer’s Syndrome of culture, which, ending in the obliteration of memory, ends also in the killing-off of the life that those memories carried..