“We Must Believe Thereon”: A Note Against Open Society.

“A positive culture must have a positive set of values, and the dissentients must remain marginal, tending to make only marginal contributions.” 

T.S. Eliot The Idea of a Christian Society (1939)

T.S. Eliot here dissents from the liberal creeds that we nowadays call multiculturalism, inclusion, and the open society.  What he calls a “positive culture” positively affirms itself, while it at the same time rejects all other cultures. It may reject them implicitly or explicitly, courteously or rudely, but it must reject them because it has faith in itself.  If I like books and you like beer, I can leave you to your brew; but each time I turn a page, I declare that books are better.

A man brought up in a positive culture will likewise believe that his particular way of life is most valuable, most worthy, indeed most pleasing in the eyes of God.   A man brought up in multiculturalism has no such belief and declares with John Lennon,

“Whatever gets you through the night ’salright, ’salright.”*

Perhaps we should not be surprised to find a similar broadmindedness in Goethe’s Faust, as the lovely Margaret discovered when she put this question to him in Martha’s garden.

M: “How is’t with thy religion, pray?
Thou art a dear, good hearted man,
And yet, I think, dost not incline that way.”

F: “Leave that, my child!  Thou knowest my love is tender;
For love, my blood and life I would surrender,
And as for Faith and Church, I grant to each his own.”

M: “That’s not enough: we must believe thereon.”**

What Margaret discovers upon further inquiry is that, in matters of religion, Faust grants to each his own because religion is to Faust nothing but a vast and overboiling feeling—indeed a feeling barely distinguishable from his vast and overboiling feeling that it would be sweet to take lovely Margaret in bed.

“Call it, then, what thou wilt—
Call it Bliss! Heart! Love! God!
I have no name to give it!
Feeling is all and all.”

Not unmoved by these high-flown sentiments, Margaret yet answers,

“To hear it thus, it may seem passable;
And yet, some hitch in’t  there must be
For thou hast no Christianity.”

She means that Faust has no positive religion, believes nothing in particular, and thus equally respects any religion that is capable of stimulating a feeling of vast and overboiling bliss.

“Whatever gets you through the night ’salright, ’salright.”

Margaret at once blames Faust’s passionate pantheism on his new association with Mephistopheles, an ominous and repulsive creature whom she both loathes and fears.  Whenever she is in the presence of that foul fiend, Margaret feels his demonic hatred for positive and particular things, and from this his hatred for love itself.

“Live with the like of him, may I never!
When once inside the door comes he,
He looks around so sneeringly,
And half in wrath:
One sees that in nothing no interest he hath.
’Tis written on his very forehead
That love, to him, is a thing abhorred.”

Margaret’s faith is a positive and particular faith in Christ and his Church.  Margaret’s love is a positive and particular love for Faust.  But under the influence of the Devil Mephistopheles, Faust has turned away from a positive and particular faith, and a positive and particular love.  He has become passionate, pantheistic, and I can only think to say pansexual.  Here Mephistopheles explains what I mean by pansexual:

Women, I say; and, once for all, believe
That in the plural I the sex conceive!”

Mephistopheles says of women what a modern multiculturalist says of culture: I conceive it “in the plural.”  Those who associate with a modern multiculturalist soon learn to do likewise.  They are weaned of their love for a positive and particular culture  They will very likely feel, and almost certainly profess, a passion for an abstraction they call culture; they will very likely feel, and almost certainly profess, vast and overboiling feelings of bliss when they expereince a culture not their own.  But Margaret would tell them:

“That’s not enough: we must believe thereon.”

* * * * *

A positive culture may choose to tolerate dissentient minorities in its midst, but Eliot tells us that a positive culture will at the same time marginalize and exclude those dissentient minorities.   A dissentient minority has a radically different sense of things—a different consciousness, a different awareness—and the purpose of a positive culture is to affirm, conserve and reproduce its own sense of things.  It is free to borrow attractive culture traits from its dissentient minorities,  but these dissentient minorities are not free to contribute to the positive culture, or to fully participate in the cultural life and institutions of the nation.

This is why it was right for the old Church of England to exclude dissenters from its seminaries at Oxford and Cambridge.  The old Church of England was in the business of positively affirming itself, and while it could tolerate Presbyterians, Baptists, and even Roman Catholics, in the territory of England, it could not submit to their demands, educate their children, or incorporate their errors.   This is why it was right for the old Church of England to marginalize dissenters and place itself at the center of English culture and society.  This is why it was right for the old Church of England to demand that dissenters accept this exclusion and marginalization as the price of toleration.

The old Church of England was able to do all these things because, unlike the new Church of England, it had faith in itself.  Like a man brought up in a positive culture, the old Church of England believed that its particular way of life was most valuable, most worthy, indeed most pleasing in the eyes of God.  If it had been confronted with the Apocalypse of St. John Lennon, it would have recoiled from his Golden Rule:

“Whatever gets you through the night ’salright, ’salright.”

Or it would have answered in the manner of lovely Margaret when she was confronted with Faust’s high-flown falsehoods and flapdoodle:

“That’s not enough: we must believe thereon.”

If a man believes in his religion, he does not suppose it will be improved by embracing infidels and their ways.   He thus excludes them from his church and does all he can to push them to the margins of his society.  If a man has faith in his culture, he does not suppose it will be improved by fusion with foreigners and their ways.   He may tolerate these things in his own land, but he  does not love or celebrate these things.  He celebrates his own particular way of life because his faith assures him that it  is most valuable, most worthy, most pleasing to God.

* * * * *

Eliot’s Idea of a Christian Society was first given to the public in a series of Lectures at Oxford University in 1939. Needless to say, the ideas he proposed did not prosper in the eighty years since then.  Indeed, it is the ideas he opposed—internationalism and the open society—that have gone from strength to strength.   Under slogans like globalism, multiculturalism and inclusion, they are today dogmas from which it is dangerous to dissent.

Here is a beautiful metaphor of what has happened to our world since Eliot raised his futile alarm.  I found it among the maxims of Honoré de Balzac, and I believe it almost perfectly captures the pathos of our times.  All the fine old mansions that were positive and particular cultures are being pulled down to make way for multicultural streets, and we who used to inhabit one of those mansions are becoming homeless street people.  We have lost faith in God and in ourselves, and we find it increasingly difficult to make anything that is beautiful.

“Nowadays fine mansions are sold, pulled down, and make room for streets.  Nobody knows whether his own generation will be faithful to the ancestral home, which anyone may go in an out of like an inn; whereas formerly, when a man built a house to live in, he labored, or thought at least to labor, for an imperishable family.  That is what made the old mansions so beautiful: men’s faith in themselves wrought miracles, like faith in God.”

*) John Lennon, “Whatever Gets You Through the Night” (1974).
**) Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust: A Tragedy, trans. Bayard Taylor (1808, 1870).
***) Honoré de Balzac, Maximes (1905)

33 thoughts on ““We Must Believe Thereon”: A Note Against Open Society.

  1. Good essay – thank you. When there are competing cultures and there is no dominant or core culture, it can only lead to dissolution: eventually one culture will dominate and try to destroy the others, and we know which culture that is.
    I was recently in Durham Cathedral, a building so wonderful it is astonishing to learn that it was built almost a thousand years ago. Modern man has superior technology, but cannot create anything as beautiful. When the old stained glass windows are replaced by modern versions they are so breathtakingly inferior one has to ask oneself what has changed.
    The answer is simple: the luminous faith of our ancestors has disintegrated into a program of short-lived nostrums and trends. The open society, as Roger Scruton wrote, is “a negative ideal” which takes “scant notice of real human interests”. Stability and a sense of the past have given way to volatility and a fearful society.
    Margarete is right: “we must believe thereon”.

    • Thanks. There is always a certain amount of competition and conflict in a culture, but as you say, this is worse when there is no dominant culture. When people complain about dominant culture in general, they are really complaining about the actual, present dominant culture. They are not part of it and they aim to weaken it so they can replace it. The ugliness of so much modern life must be a judgement.

  2. Excellent article, sir. I very much enjoyed reading it.

    You are right – open societies are easy to subvert and overthrow because open societies are, well, open to subversion and overthrow. That’s what the phrase “open society” means
    when you boil it all down. Russian defector and former KGB agent, Yuri Bezmenov, explained this numerous times in (American) public forums back in the ’70s, but of course Americans are too “open minded” to have listened to Mr. Bezmenov’s sage advice (see here, for example: https://youtu.be/DB5DP2oTIVc).

    This is also why I personally have no tolerance for the likes of a.morphous et al. I know exactly what he is up to with his vaunted “cosmopolitanism.”

    • Thanks, and you are right. An open society is nothing but a battleground that various closed and secret societies fight to control. The more loudly a man advocates an open society, the more certain you can be that he is himself the member of a closed and secret society that aims to control the open society. I remember watching those Bezmenov interviews, but having just returned from a long country walk in the rain, may put up my feet and refresh my memory. A.morphous has always struck me as having a certain resemblance to Mephistopheles.

    • You are aware I suppose that whatever the goals and methods of the KGB on the 70s, the Russian intelligence agencies of the present manipulate the fears and cognitive abilities of right, to the point where they are incapable of even basic rationality?

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/15/kremlin-papers-appear-to-show-putins-plot-to-put-trump-in-white-house

      Vladimir Putin personally authorised a secret spy agency operation to support a “mentally unstable” Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential election during a closed session of Russia’s national security council, according to what are assessed to be leaked Kremlin documents.

      The key meeting took place on 22 January 2016, the papers suggest, with the Russian president, his spy chiefs and senior ministers all present.

      They agreed a Trump White House would help secure Moscow’s strategic objectives, among them “social turmoil” in the US and a weakening of the American president’s negotiating position…

      • This is a little off topic, but I had a high school history teacher who developed a high opinion of the Manchester Guardian while stationed in Britain during the Second World War. He was a raconteur who taught very little history, but impressed me with his love of the MG. I then lived in England–Manchester, in fact–for a time, and returning home presented my old history teacher with a rather battered copy of the MG. He was less grateful than I expected, and perhaps surprised that the MG was not the newspaper he had so fondly remembered. Not that the MG had changed, but rather that he had grown up. Malcolm Muggeridge has interesting things to say about his time at the MG in his autobiography. The MG has always been a highly partisan broadsheet, and its words impress me no more than the words of Fox news impress you.

      • I’m aware that you, a.morphous, seem to be supremely confident in your superior level of competence as regards any subject or subject matter discussed at this site. I’m also aware that your disagreement with us on most every subject and subject matter re-assures you of how very right and superior you are (intellectually and otherwise), and how very wrong and inferior we are, sir. Studies have shown, on the other hand, that the most incompetent people in circulation tend to greatly overestimate their own levels of competence; whereas their competent counterparts tend to more or less slightly underestimate their own competence levels. The latter of the two groups generally come across in online conversations and such as bearing a more humble disposition, whereas their counterparts tend to come across as overbearing jerks.

        As I’ve pointed out many times before, the number of stupid people in circulation, in any given society and at any given time or moment in history, seems to be a constant and remains a constant, irrespective of anything about such persons otherwise (levels of education, type of profession, political affiliations and so on). Should you like to substitute the word “irrational” for the word “stupid,” I see no major issue with that. Bottom line: persons who are prone to having their cognitive abilities manipulated to the point they are, in your words, “incapable of even basic rationality,” are not just those situated on the right side of the political spectrum. And if you think they are, I have some prime ocean-front property here in sunny Oklahoma I’ll sell you dirt cheap. And a totally safe, effective COVID vaccine to boot.

      • I’m aware that you, a.morphous, seem to be supremely confident in your superior level of competence as regards any subject or subject matter discussed at this site.

        Not really sure why you would say that. There are obviously subjects on which my knowledge is inferior, such as the finer points of Christian theology, and I’ve never claimed otherwise.

        The immediate subject at hand is espionage, and I certainly don’t claim any special knowledge of exactly what the KGB or its successors have been up to. It’s an area in which it is difficult or impossible to have reliable knowledge and I certainly don’t claim any expertise or superiority.

        More broadly though, I think you have the wrong framing of the discussion. Our values are different, and while I certainly prefer my own, I can’t claim they are superior to yours on some absolute scale, which I don’t believe in. Take the topic of the original post, the supposed benefits of a culturally homogenous society. I disagree, and while I could make some arguments for my case it ultimately comes down to different preferences. There’s no point trying to argue someone into holding different fundamental values. I don’t see it as my superior taste relative to yours; I see yours as radically different, in a way I am trying to understand.

        I don’t know if you followed my last long exchange with Kristor, but in it basically we both concluded that we are on opposite sides of a war which ultimately will be decided with violence or at least with political struggle. That strikes me as a terrible conclusion, but I don’t see any hope of reconciliation between the disparate political factions.

        Speaking of violence, I wonder what you folks think about the current Afghanistan debacle? I’d think you might be pleased, since its a good example of the utter failure of an attempt (half-hearted and inept) to impose a modern, cosmopolitan state in an area which much prefers cultural uniformity and theocracy. The Taliban have zero tolerance for multiculturalism and have demonstrated the will and the ability to use violence to enforce their own monoculture. Seems like you and they are basically on the same side.

    • open societies are easy to subvert and overthrow because open societies are, well, open to subversion and overthrow.

      I’ve always found this dynamic interesting. I first observed it with faith: If one man believes that anyone can believe anything, and another man believes everyone must believe as he believes, then the second man will eventually dominate. The first man (if he is honest and consistent) will live tolerantly as more and more of the second sort of man crowds around him. Eventually either the thorns will choke his faith or the zealots will choke his life.

      But that is only half the battle, because when the world is dominated by the second sort of man, the first sort has a kind of advantage. Lets call the first sort “Tolerant” and the second sort “Zealous”. In a Zealous world, the Tolerant have the advantage because they can pluck the heartstrings of society. “Can’t we all get along?” is the first winsome appeal of a lone Tolerant man among the zealots. This opens the door for more tolerance, and the Zealots (by forbearance, not by tolerance) allow it to happen. When the Zealots wake to find themselves on the back foot they correct themselves.

      This is what happened to the Church of England. I was raised Anglican (to differentiate myself from Episcopalians). Those who call themselves Anglican are more conservative than their Episcopalian brothers; the former could be called Zealots while the latter could be called Tolerant. It seems to me an attempt at containment occurred, where the Anglican Communion tried to allow the tolerant expression in that one realm. But eventually the Tolerant took command of the Anglican Communion and dragged the other subsidiaries with it. The Methodists just did the same thing, deciding to schism over the issue of homosexual marriage.

      One of the keys to my conversion to Catholicism was the question, “Who is right?” I was looking at my Anglican heritage, and I was looking at Episcopalians, and seeing different things; then looking up the chain and seeing they were the same thing. How can one faith have two so drastically different wings? A house divided cannot stand. So too with a society. Yet a society rent in two is far less stable than a society rent into a million pieces. We are being sustained because no one group has total cultural dominance.

      • My sense is that Zealots always win, although a Zealot win often looks like a Tolerant win. When the Tolerants assumed control of the Episcopalian Church, the Episcopalian Church was neutered as a cultural influence in the United States. To be honest, something similar has happened in all of the Christian Churches. They became tolerant and therefore irrelevant. You will notice that no one talks about the “Catholic vote” anymore, and that’s because there is no “Catholic vote.” The Church tells Catholics to “vote their conscience,” so Catholics split their votes and cancel each other out. This neutering of Catholics as a political force is advantageous to other Zealots.

  3. If I may attempt a rebuttal to our formless interlocutor:

    Speaking of violence, I wonder what you folks think about the current Afghanistan debacle? I’d think you might be pleased, since its a good example of the utter failure of an attempt (half-hearted and inept) to impose a modern, cosmopolitan state in an area which much prefers cultural uniformity and theocracy. The Taliban have zero tolerance for multiculturalism and have demonstrated the will and the ability to use violence to enforce their own monoculture. Seems like you and they are basically on the same side.

    This is a false equivalency fallacy. “Orthosphere discusses monoculture. Taliban enforces monoculture. Therefore Orthosphere and Taliban are kindred spirits”–this is the syllogism I am taking from your question.

    The Taliban have two attributes. First, they are ethnonationalists. Second, they are muslim extremists.

    First, as ethnonationalist: This is the base state of all humanity. The Taliban understand intuitively that they cannot control a culture if they cannot control cultural influences. If Afghanistan were, for example, a favorite destination of Parisians then the Afghan people might get a taste for french bread and french architecture and before long french cultural and political values like “liberte, fraternite, equalite”. The first nation-states were ethno-nationalist because ethnicity implied a common cultural bond and their nation was the extent to which their cultural bonds could be enforced. When the Magyars invaded the carpathian basin, they dominated the region but could not dominate to the south because of the presence of the Bulgarians and could not dominate to the west because of the Italians. The Taliban being ethnonationalist tells us that they are utilizing the oldest and simplest means of dominating a culture, which is homogeneity.

    America, in contrast, is not and cannot be ethnonationalist because it did not begin as an ethno-nation. The reason a multicultural state like America works is because of massive and mutual forbearance of all parties. The closest thing to a “nation” (in the tribal sense) within America is now political factionalism. And because political factionalism is destabilizing, it is bad. You acknowledge this when you say “[Kristor and I] both concluded that we are on opposite sides of a war which ultimately will be decided with violence or at least with political struggle.”

    The Orthosphere is not ethnonationalist in ideology. The primary concern of the Orthosphere, by my reckoning (and to the extent one can argue that the Orthosphere can be generalized), is with cultural values. Different ethnicities can share cultural values. American government and American social will has very little interest in promoting any set of values at all, which leads to many different value sets all competing, and so more factionalism. The set of cultural values promoted by the Orthosphere are not in any way comparable to the Taliban–you will not find in these pages any apologia for muslim extremism, for tyranical violence, or for terrorism. The equivalency drawn on this point is egregious.

    Second, as muslim extremists: the Taliban utilize an extremist interpretation of islam to justify terrorism and violence, for acts of suppression and innumerable other appalling acts. This is an essential aspect to the Taliban. You say of the Taliban that they are in an area which much prefers cultural uniformity and theocracy (…) and have demonstrated the will and the ability to use violence (…) Seems like you and they are basically on the same side.. Orthosphere does not advocate for theocracy either, and the faith which informs the Orthosphere does not promote violence. The Taliban uses religion to justify violence and enforce their theocratic regime. Further still, the Orthosphere is traditionalist whereas the Taliban is anti-modern. Tradition is a coherent set of practices and values which have been preserved, for the betterment of civilization, since the time of Christ. Traditionalism is a proactive idea because it involves doing something today which has been done yesterday and every day before that for two thousand years. Anti-modernism is distinct from traditionalism because it is reactive and simply rejects and annuls modernity without suggesting anything to replace it. The Taliban don’t have a plan–they just recognize what they don’t like and swiftly dispose of it. I say again: The equivalency drawn on this point is egregious.

    A.Morphous, I guarantee there is not a single word in any post on this site which justifies violence or uses our Christian faith to do so. I still believe you are operating under the misapprehension that the Orthosphere is a subsidiary ideology to “republicanism” or “conservatism”. At least from my perspective, Republicans and conservatives dislike us almost as much as you seem to (charitably, maybe you don’t dislike us personally but strongly dislike the things we talk about). The pithy punchline at the end of your comment that “Seems like you and [the Taliban] are basically on the same side.” is not so charitable and deeply insulting. Whatever you believe, you surely do not, in sincerity, believe the the commenters and contributors of the Orthosphere are capable and approving of terroristic violence.

    • Thanks for the polite and thoughtful reply.

      First, apologies for any insult. In partial defense, this was a reply to a comment insulting me (as intellectually arrogant) so I was a bit primed.

      There is a difference between “akin to” and “equivalent”. Obviously there are many differences between the Taliban and the orthosphere, but the similarities are interesting and salient: both antimodern, both antifeminist, both advocating cultural uniformity, both advocating, if not theocracy, a strong relationship between the state and religious authority.

      This does not make them “equivalent”, but OTOH if the world is understood to be in the midst of a great battle between the forces of modernity and antimodernity, would you not find yourself on the same side?

      This thought occurred to me spontaneously, but it took about five minutes to find prominent right-wingers basically making essentially the same point. They feel a kinship to the Taliban, and are apparently are not ashamed to display it:

      Now, as to violence. I’m glad you folks are peaceable; so am I. But the truth is that all states rest on violence. A state is definitionally an institution which has a monopoly of violence in its territory; rulers rule through the threat of violence and politics always has an undercurrent of violence to it (which, when democracy is functioning, remains an undercurrent). This is more of a problem for liberals than for the Taliban.

      So if you are advocating for cultural, ethnic, or racial uniformity, you are either just spouting empty wind or advocating the use of violence to achieve those ends. There’s no third option (well – I suppose in theory there is voluntary self-segregation, but that isn’t happening).

      Ethnic uniformity was the default when humanity lived in small tribal bands; but ever since the invention of cities it has been cosmopolitan mixing all the way, from the Israelite’s sojourn in Egypt to the polyglot cities of the old empires to today. Multiculturalism is the natural state of urbanized man and cities are where everything significant happens. Fighting against this means fighting against civilization.

      Further still, the Orthosphere is traditionalist whereas the Taliban is anti-modern. Tradition is a coherent set of practices and values which have been preserved, for the betterment of civilization, since the time of Christ.

      This just sounds parochial. The Taliban will claim they are following the dictates of ancient Islamic custom, and those claims pull just about the same amount of water for me as yours do, sorry. All varieties of the same thing as far as I am concerned.

      Again, not to say they are equivalent, but they seem to me to be on the same side of some great struggle. And its interesting that some on the American right are willing to say as much.

      • I know many here will disagree with me, but this sort of intelligent input is one reason I consider a.morphous to be a valuable contributor here, if only to keep us honest and consistent – and, as a skillful and intelligent advocate of the views we here despond, so that he serves our rhetorical purposes vis-à-vis our silent readers. I don’t doubt that we can argue him into silence whenever we want to take the effort to do so. I’ve done it many times myself. But, every time we do, we make our case. And a.morphous helps us. We could not have invented a better foil, had we tried.

        A.morphous, thanks. I cannot imagine what impels you to subject yourself to our criticism, year over year. It’s astonishing, really. You must have balls of steel. Honestly. I admire it in you. God bless you, sir; and, may God soon correct you, so that you may join such of us as are lucky enough, and holy enough, to participate the heavenly banquet.

        Know that I pray for you, my brother. Truly.

      • First, let me echo Kristor’s appreciation in saying that while we disagree and dispute I cannot deny that your exchanges with Kristor have been deeply informative to me and I learned a LOT in a very short period of time by reading your dialogues. I hope one of you has retained access to those threads because it might be worth compiling them one day. Just a thought! “The perfect foil” is right, so I am grateful to you for keeping the intellectual gears turning in myself and around hereabouts.


        ***Disclaimer, I am going to say “Orthosphere thinks this or that” a lot in this comment, but know that Orthosphere has nuance and is not entirely homogenous, and so when I say that I mean to say “my impression of the Orthosphere” which at least gives an out if any orthospherian reads what I write and takes issue with my assessment.***

        First, apologies for any insult. In partial defense, this was a reply to a comment insulting me (as intellectually arrogant) so I was a bit primed.

        All is forgiven. I understand and know that this is the internet where it is easy to provoke and be provoked. None are immune from this temptation to short temperedness.

        This does not make them “equivalent”, but OTOH if the world is understood to be in the midst of a great battle between the forces of modernity and antimodernity, would you not find yourself on the same side?

        Forgive me for a bit of exposition but in order to explain my POV on this it’s going to be a bit of a walk, bear with me.

        My family are effectively atheists. I have two siblings, an elder and a younger. My elder sibling converted to what is commonly referred to as a “charismatic, evangelical, non-denominational” sect of Christianity when I was a teenager, and this hastened my families atheistic reaction. My elder siblings faith is what some may describe as “snake oil salesmen”–speaking in tongues, healing people on stage, yadda yadda. It was also the fire and brimstone flavor of protestant christianity–the frequent promise of hellfire soured my families and my own relationship with my sibling and likewise our relationship with God. I became Catholic in 2018, at the end of a process of trying to find answers to all the questions my elder sibling raised when I was a teenager.

        Two or three years ago, my elder sibling was visiting my family at the same time I was, and naturally we all got to talking about the subject of religion. I found myself in a very awkward position: Relative my parents and younger sibling, my elder sibling and I were on the same side as mere theists. But what my elder sibling was saying could not have been more different from what I was saying. From my POV there were three sides–from theirs there were only two.

        This awkward position is analogous to what you are describing when you observe similarities between the Taliban and the Orthosphere. From your POV, I get it–both are contrary to your POV. From my POV, the Taliban is as different and alien as your views.

        All this to say–I get where you are coming from, and won’t belabor the point of how many sides, exactly, there are in the grand scheme of things–but I hope you understand a little better why the “you are on the same side” point is so odd to me.

        Dealing with some of the substance of your comment:

        Obviously there are many differences between the Taliban and the orthosphere, but the similarities are interesting and salient: both antimodern, both antifeminist, both advocating cultural uniformity, both advocating, if not theocracy, a strong relationship between the state and religious authority. (…) A state is definitionally an institution which has a monopoly of violence in its territory; rulers rule through the threat of violence and politics always has an undercurrent of violence to it (which, when democracy is functioning, remains an undercurrent). (…) So if you are advocating for cultural, ethnic, or racial uniformity, you are either just spouting empty wind or advocating the use of violence to achieve those ends. There’s no third option

        Let me try and parse out some key points here and take them separately.

        1. Antimodern vs. Traditionalist: I want to reiterate that I draw a distinction between these two ideas. Antimodern is a rejection of the modern while Traditionalism is a respectful obedience to yesterdays rules. By analogy, if a new elevated Autobahn were being constructed for rocket cars to use between New York and Los Angeles; the Antimodern would want to remove the autobahn while the traditionalist would simply not buy a rocketcar. Neither wants the Autobahn, which is why you say both are on the same side, but hopefully you can see how the two approaches are distinct. Antimodern is an active rejection and dismantling of the modern, Traditionalism is benign indifference to the modern in favor of tradition.

        2- Orthosphere as Antifeminist: This feels a little bit off topic but I wanted to address it anyway. We don’t have to get into the weeds on this point as it’s not an area I am particularly passionate about, but here is a rebuttal anyway. Insofar as Orthospherian ideas of femininity reflect Catholic ideals of femininity, then it is quote-unquote “true feminism”. Modern concepts of feminism are very much tied up in sexual liberality and the ironclad authority of the individual. So if you agree that those ideas are at the core of modern feminism then Orthosphere certainly does not promote those things. When I say “true feminism” i mean promoting the perfectionon of femininity and womanhood, thus pointing to God and the feminine ideal as embodied by the Blessed Virgin Mary. This singular point turns this into a theological discussion which–again–I am happy to get into if you are interested but is not entirely germane to the Taliban discussion.

        Speaking of the Taliban, the Taliban is antifeminist in the “treating women as property” way, which is not something remotely approved by any Orthospherian. This draws that same issue, where I can see where you draw the line and say the Orthosphere and the Taliban are on the wrong side of it, but I hope I have clarified how that fails to capture the full picture of both sets of belief.

        3 – Orthosphere as advocates of Cultural Uniformity: It’s worth making sure we are talking about the same thing here. Cultural uniformity lends itself to stability. This is logically true–if everyone believed the same things and held the same values there would be no conflict. Case in point: The comments section at the Orthosphere has a culture, and your comments are not uniform with that culture. This creates conflict. Conflict we appreciate, as Kristor notes! But conflict nonetheless. Orthosphere does not advocate creating cultural uniformity. That line of thought does indeed lead to violence. I would say the primary desired means for winning hearts and minds to Christ is conversion–so prayer. God does the heavy lifting, we know that we cannot “make” a heterogeneous society into a homogeneous one. We wish more people were brought to Christ and so adopted Christian values and so shared a Christian Culture, and so increased the cultural uniformity.

        The Taliban homogenizes their society at gunpoint, which is not conducive to stability. You have more to say on Cultural homogeneity when you takl about cosmopolitanism, which I will address more in a moment.

        4 – There is no middle way: The way I have proposed above is prayer for conversion. Naturally, if you do not believe this is a thing, it will sound nonsensical to you. That is a frustrating thing about being a traditionalist reactionary: it is a 1000-year-view game living in a 4-year-view world. There are no levers but for generational ones. If you want cultural uniformity and have moral misgivings about creating it by violence, then all one needs to do is have lots of kids and impart your culture upon them, and encourage them to do the same.

        5 – Orthosphere as advocate of Theocracy: I will simply say that wanting everyone to be Christian and have Christian values is different from wanting a Theocracy. We want a President of the United States who is informed by Christian (and Catholic) Morality, and who shares these values. We do not want a Bishop to run the country. It is the difference between wanting a pilot to fly your plane and wanting the planes design engineer to fly your plane. They could probably do it, but the pilot–when properly imbued with technical training and skill–will do a better job.

        6 – Violence as an implicit mechanism of politics: It is hard for me to argue with this point, as I made a similar point some time ago myself. It was something to the effect that Governments are responsible for killing the right kinds of people. When they kill the right kinds of people that is justice (when they are citizens) or self defense (when they are not). A government that kills the wrong kinds of people is a tyranny. The question then becomes which kind of people is the right kind of people. That question makes it a political matter.

        This thought occurred to me spontaneously, but it took about five minutes to find prominent right-wingers basically making essentially the same point. They feel a kinship to the Taliban, and are apparently are not ashamed to display it:

        This is why I think you are operating under the misapprehension that the Orthosphere is a species of right-wing. It is the same scenario as with my elder sibling I described above. This is even harder to talk about though because often I find myself at odds with even my fellow Orthospherians. You might be familiar with the “Civil liberty” and “Economic liberty” political description chart. I tried for a long time to figure out where on this chart the Orthosphere lived, when I realized it’s not on the chart at all. At best it presents a Z axis and is on an entirely different plane–at worst (and what I think) it’s not compatible with that chart at all. So again, I see the point that you are making with those quoted tweets, but do not see how that says anything about the Orthosphere.

        but ever since the invention of cities it has been cosmopolitan mixing all the way

        So I was recently musing about cities on my own blog. What I came to was that civilization oozes outwards from cities to the frontier. Cities I think were the first cradles of civilization, so I don’t think there was an invention of cities, I think the first cities are the indicators of the first civilizations. Ancient civilizations were not multicultural, to my knowledge. The Aztecs, the Indus River, Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt–these were ethnically and culturally homogeneous, excluding any enslaved conquered people.

        cities are where everything significant happens. Fighting against this means fighting against civilization.

        Well–I hate to be pedantic–but it depends on what you mean by significant. Lots of things happen on the Frontier that are also important. The Frontier and the City are yin and yang, they exist in tension and symbiosis. This isn’t exactly the point you are making though–the specific aspect of the city you are talking about is the multicultural aspect. Multiculturalism can operate fine at a city level. But multiculturalism has not been the historical norm–again, look at Europe between AD 0 and AD 1500, there are few if any multicultural states. I am not saying this as evidence that multiculturalism is bad, but as defense of my point that multiculturalism is new. Monoculturalism is simple, and it is stable. Multiculturalism introduces complexity. And if the multi-cultures don’t share some set of common values, conflict is inevitable, because those values inform political decisions, and as you note, an implicit element of politics is violence.

      • Scoot, well done. Thanks for this pretty doggone brilliant – and charitable (again, very well done!), and so therefore enlightening synopsis. A few responses, not so much to quibble as to amplify here or there:

        1. Rest assured that I have retained all my conversations with a.morphous. I’m not so sure about compiling them into a book, or the like – that might get horribly tedious – but I’ve got them, all.

        2. You are dead right about the Orthosphere approaching the planar coordinate system of the world – and the flesh, and the devil – along an axis perpendicular thereto, a z axis. That notion suffuses our About page, written back when we started in 2012:

        Who We Are and What We Believe

        Ortho: Right, correct, straight. As in orthodoxy (right teaching), orthogonal (literally, right-sided; thus, right angled; so, perpendicular, independent) and orthognomon (right knowledge, right indicator (as of a carpenter’s square or a sundial)).

        Sphere: A domain, especially of influence. Thus,

        Orthosphere: A domain of Christian orthodoxy independent of conventional conservatism.

        We are Christians: Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox. We believe our religion is true, and we take the Bible and the Church Fathers as our guides to the faith. We do not innovate religiously, for that is folly.

        We affirm our respective traditions where they disagree with the other branches of Christianity, but we do so respectfully, for we have much in common (catholic or mere Christianity) and our enterprise has as much to do with society as with religion.

        Socio-politically, we can be called “traditionalist conservatives” or “Christian reactionaries.” Since we agree that Modernity – the fundamental principle of contemporary Western Civilization – is radically defective, we are branded “far-right.” In truth, we affirm what was regarded as self-evident by the vast majority of mankind until well into the Twentieth Century: Religion is true, authority is valid and good, man and woman differ in essential ways, and so on. If affirming reality puts us at the rightmost end of the political spectrum, as the world construes politics, then so be it.

        3. I would hesitate to characterize us as theocratic, but nevertheless it seems to me that we are integralist – for, there can be no just way to order a society in contravention to ecclesial truth, to truth insofar as the Church has so far been able to understand it – and monarchist. We’d like a monarchy because, if for no other reason, there always is a monarch, so we might as well be honest about that. And we’d like the king (or honcho, or president – call him what you will) to be subject (at least morally, and under the terms of the Narrative) to the ecclesial hierarchy, so that if the honcho defected from his regal duties egregiously, the ecclesial hierarchy would be capable of delegitimizing him in the eyes of all and sundry, thus opening moral room for his deposition by the nobility. But, otherwise, sure.

        That whole notion depends of course upon the overwhelming suasion of the ecclesial hierarchy over the scope of all popular discourse. It depends, i.e., upon pretty much universal acceptance of the authority of the Church; upon her credibility as morally absolute arbiter of human affairs. Which, in turn, prerequires her practical recusal from human affairs. Integralism works only when the episcopal hierarchy are not involved in practical politics on the plane defined by the coordinate system of civil and of economic liberty.

        The ecclesial hierarchy can function adequately as governor of politics only insofar as it is not itself an interested political party; only insofar as it approaches the plane of politics defined by the spectra of civil and of economic liberty from a perspective orthogonal to that plane.

      • Kristor, thank you for your kind words!

        Ed Feser had an interesting article a while ago arguing that the Holy Roman Empire was different from other government entities in that it was established by the Church, and so held a higher rank than post-Westphalian nationstates. Thus it can be argued it is not “dead”, merely “dormant” and I thought that was a fascinating thought.

        Likewise, since all authority finds its source and summit in God, all authorities are in some way subject to God whether they acknowledge Him or not. I was supposing that Theocracy means an explicitly ecclesial rule, but if one supposes as a.morphous seems to that the primacy of the individual is “natural law”, then subordination to any other authority, Church or no, will seem like a tyranny.

        Integralism then is about the measure of it. It’s not theocracy, because it wouldn’t turn America into a bishopric, but if everyone independently accepts the precepts of the Catholic faith then society, the law, and all else would reflect the precepts of the Catholic faith. Law follows society, not the other way around.

        The Holy Roman Empire began with the ecclesial hierarchy as a parallel and disinterested party, but human nature bent that Z axis over time until it was parallel, and lo and behold the politicization of the Church. It takes self discipline and restraint for such an organization to have longevity–maybe while the HRE is sleeping, this is what God is trying to teach us.

      • The primacy of the individual is natural lawlessness. It’s just chaos. Social order must be a more or less happy coordination of individual acts; and the coordination must precede and so order the individual acts a priori, if it is to be by them regenerate, and so perdurant – rather than degenerate, and so doomed. It’s all right there implicit in the terms “social” and “order.” Individual acts must be domesticated to a prior social order, if there is to be any social order at all. Moral relativists and individualists like to forget that social order is the forecondition and sine qua non of every single individual human act whatever. They get the emergence backward: individual acts supervene social order, and not vice versa. The Invisible Hand is GNON; the Lógos. He is the basis of the whole shooting match: in him alone is the equilibrium that so (rightly) besots economists and political scientists.

        If social acts are coordinated under any other ultimate authority than GNON – than, i.e., the Lógos – then they are bound to lead to evil, and so to antiselection: to death.

        Individualism and moral relativism then are counsels of despair, and of doom.

        As for the present sleep of the HRE: *all* governments are instituted by God, in the last analysis, and Providentially. And all of them before the modern era understood themselves in this way, quite explicitly (although the details did vary, of course). Only the moderns have repudiated Providence, and so therefore also authority per se. Therein lies the doom of modernity. If there be no transcendent ground of social order, and so of authority, then can there be no basis for any constraint whatever. As the rejection of suprapersonal authority, modernity is the rejection of government as such.

        Modernity is then, in the final absurd reduction, the rejection also of self-government, which is a basic forecondition of individual acts properly ordered to their world.

        How ironic, then, that modern governments – there are such things, for there is after all no escape from the necessity of human government – having repudiated in principle the very principle of government, must so often resort to brutal tyranny in order to preserve social order of the most basic sort.

        The Holy Roman Empire must someday again arise. It is the fillment of an ontological niche, and nature abhors vacuous niches.

  4. Re: sides. Reality is not two-sided, it’s very complex and every individual has their own unique set of beliefs and values. Nonetheless, despite this diversity, humanity seems awfully good at forming up into opposing teams that go about trying to kill or overpower each other.

    Sociologists have a technical term for this: polarization. It’s a rather abstract yet very powerful force, one that is somewhat independent of the wills of the individuals involved. The dynamics of polarization are very evident in the present-day US.

    Just to be clear, I am not advocating polarization, so much as observing it.

    Orthosphere does not advocate creating cultural uniformity. That line of thought does indeed lead to violence….The Taliban homogenizes their society at gunpoint,

    I think I addressed this point in my last message. I understand what you are saying, but I don’t buy it. And I am surprised to find such mealy-mouthed liberalism coming from this quarter. I thought there was a great spiritual war happening? In such a war, there can be no neutrals, no pacifists, no conscientious objectors, no innocent bystanders. This is another aspect of polarization; it sweeps up everybody.

    This is why I think you are operating under the misapprehension that the Orthosphere is a species of right-wing.

    Oh come on. You have a quote from de Maistre at the top of this site; that’s about as definitionally right-wing as you can get.

    I find myself at odds with even my fellow Orthospherians.

    Well – I recognize that not everybody on this site believes the same things, but I can’t really keep track of all that and hence am often arguing against an inferred, generalized orthospherian. Unfair I know, but on the other hand I often am charged with all the sins of the left from Mao to Elizabeth Warren, no matter what my own personal beliefs may be.

    Modern concepts of feminism are very much tied up in sexual liberality and the ironclad authority of the individual. … When I say “true feminism” i mean promoting the perfectionon of femininity and womanhood…Speaking of the Taliban, the Taliban is antifeminist in the “treating women as property” way, which is not something remotely approved by any Orthospherian.

    I don’t know about the Orthosphere, but there are certainly popular blogs in your neighborhood that do explicitly advocate treating women as property. These people, while vile, are at least being more honest than you. There’s no middle ground between women having full autonomy as individuals and being property. There may be such roles available in “tradition”, but tradition is dead – killed by modernity and capitalism. That’s the real condition we face, like it or not.

    Ancient civilizations were not multicultural, to my knowledge.

    Read the old testament, which is large part about encounters between different cultures, most famously the Israelites sojourn in Egypt. Empires and imperial cities by nature work by assimilating more local cultures; this assimilation is rarely perfect. (I am hardly an expert in this sort of thing so am not going to argue this point further).

    • A.morphous, thank you again for continued discussion here. I am enjoying clarifying my ideas on these topics!

      Nonetheless, despite this diversity, humanity seems awfully good at forming up into opposing teams

      (emphasis added)

      So would you agree it is true that diversity, i.e. multiculturalism–because culture informs individual beliefs to an extent–does not always lend itself to stability?

      I understand what you are saying, but I don’t buy it. And I am surprised to find such mealy-mouthed liberalism coming from this quarter. I thought there was a great spiritual war happening? In such a war, there can be no neutrals, no pacifists, no conscientious objectors, no innocent bystanders. This is another aspect of polarization; it sweeps up everybody.

      When you say “I don’t buy it” i take you to mean “I don’t believe you”, and if you choose not to believe me what can I say? Believe me or not, I have stated my position and summarized what I think is the Orthosphere position as truly as I can; if you choose not to believe me then I cannot convince you otherwise.

      Nevertheless, the non-violent principles of Christianity allow for us to wish for changes of heart, pray for changes of heart, and yet still condemn violence which inflicts changes of heart. Believe what you wish on this point, I stand by it as true.

      Oh come on. You have a quote from de Maistre at the top of this site; that’s about as definitionally right-wing as you can get.

      My elder sibling can quote the Gospel as well as anybody, that doesn’t make them Catholic. Ideas do not impose ideology, and ideologues do not have to restrict themselves to appreciating ideas written elsewhere. Again, you can believe what you wish on this point, but I maintain that the Orthosphere is not right-wing. Perhaps the right wing and the Orthosphere find themselves with common opposition or with common goals at different times and places, but not universally.

      Polarization comes with the predisposition for the polarized to organize their opposition into buckets. What I am suggesting is complicated and nuanced and doesn’t fit neatly into the bucket. I would encourage you to try and see beyond the right-wing label and assess what is actually happening here at the Orthosphere. The label “right-wing” carries philosophical baggage with it, and not all of that baggage is relevant to the Orthosphere. If you use that label there is a risk that you will misunderstand what Orthospherians think and their actions will not make sense for failing to live up to the expectations you have created. “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper names” – Confucius.

      Well – I recognize that not everybody on this site believes the same things, but I can’t really keep track of all that and hence am often arguing against an inferred, generalized orthospherian. Unfair I know, but on the other hand I often am charged with all the sins of the left from Mao to Elizabeth Warren, no matter what my own personal beliefs may be.

      The temptation is easy to fall into on both sides. See what I said above: Polarization comes with a predisposition to lump opposition into easy to manage buckets. Both sides would be well served by transcending the buckets and trying to see with new eyes. Cast aside your buckets! How’s that for a political slogan, eh?

      I don’t know about the Orthosphere, but there are certainly popular blogs in your neighborhood that do explicitly advocate treating women as property. These people, while vile, are at least being more honest than you. There’s no middle ground between women having full autonomy as individuals and being property.

      Again, if you have decided that is the case then there is nothing I can say to change your mind. The phrase “blogs in your neighborhood” says more about how you categorize these blogs than it says about the Orthosphere–we can’t control which blogs you associate together. I have made the case for a middle way and stand by it. Individualism is the iron law of modernity, but Catholic teaching is that the smallest unit of society is the Family. Women have roles in the context of a family same as men, and they are restrictive roles because a family must be a coordinated, disciplined, coherent unit to operate healthily and well. Imagine an Army platoon where every soldier can choose his own mission, vs. an Army platoon where every soldier has a role to play and a common mission. Which will be more effective?

      There may be such roles available in “tradition”, but tradition is dead – killed by modernity and capitalism. That’s the real condition we face, like it or not.

      I disagree. Tradition is alive and well, and thriving. There is evidence for it everywhere, and I am sure there is evidence you have seen personally and not recognized. If believing Family is the smallest unit of society, and that all members of a family have a unique and special role in the smooth operation thereof, is traditional, then that is certainly not dead, even if it is uncommon.

      Read the old testament, which is large part about encounters between different cultures, most famously the Israelites sojourn in Egypt.

      If you are referring to the Israelites time in Egypt, you may or may not recall that they were there as slaves. You might also recall that the population of these foreign slaves got to be so great (600,000 comes to mind, I forget where that number comes from) that they destabilized Egyptian society and, by God through Moses, revolted against Egypt and fled across the Red Sea to wander in the wilderness as a homogeneous society. Over the course of their 40 years in the wilderness, they encountered a number of foreign cultures and fought against them and won by violent struggle. I see the point you are trying to make but do not see the Israelites in Egypt as a cosmopolitan ideal. There may be other Old Testament examples but I cannot think of them off the top of my head.

      • So would you agree it is true that diversity, i.e. multiculturalism–because culture informs individual beliefs to an extent–does not always lend itself to stability?

        Way to miss the point. I was talking about the diversity of individuals, not of cultures. And I had nothing at all to say about stability, that’s your fetish, not mine.

        When you say “I don’t buy it” i take you to mean “I don’t believe you”, and if you choose not to believe me what can I say?

        I can’t claim to know better than you what is in your own heart. I don’t buy the entire stance of your post, claiming to be peaceful and apolitical, in the context of the rest of what gets said on this site, which for the purposes of this conversation I have to take as a unified whole.

        Ideas do not impose ideology, and ideologues do not have to restrict themselves to appreciating ideas written elsewhere. Again, you can believe what you wish on this point, but I maintain that the Orthosphere is not right-wing.

        Yeah OK. Let’s suppose I ran a website laden with quotes from Lenin and Mao, and said, well, you know, I’m not really a believer, they just had some good quotes.

        I have to say I am disappointed in this failure to take your own ideas seriously. That’s the one thing that makes this site interesting. As I understand it the essence of orthospherianism, at least its political aspect is that political authority should be tightly coupled with divine authority. Liberalism, in as much as it opposes traditional political authority, is essentially satanic because that is equivalent to opposing god. From this standpoint there isn’t much difference between liberalism, Marxism, anarchism, or nihilism. The political implications range from monarchy LARPing to fascism of the Franco/Pinochet variety. It is of course right-wing, because that’s what right-wing means: authority and tradition, or at least their simulacra.

        That is not a view I happen to share, but at least it’s coherent, and maybe worth arguing with (I’m starting to doubt that). But “I’m not right wing, I’m so special that I’m orthogonal to all those normies” is not coherent and not interesting.

        The phrase “blogs in your neighborhood” says more about how you categorize these blogs than it says about the Orthosphere–we can’t control which blogs you associate together.

        What I meant was: these blogs and orthosphere seem pretty closely linked. They regularly post pointers to each other, and I assume attract overlapping crowds. This does not mean that the Orthosphere has to answer for all the sins of other blogs, but they are clearly allies in some sense and to pretend otherwise is just being disingenuous.

        Women have roles in the context of a family same as men, and they are restrictive roles because a family must be a coordinated, disciplined, coherent unit to operate healthily and well. Imagine an Army platoon where every soldier can choose his own mission, vs. an Army platoon where every soldier has a role to play and a common mission. Which will be more effective?

        You are making my point for me. You think a family should be organized as a military platoon, where one party has near-absolute authority over others. That is a political position in which women are subordinated, it is anathema to a liberal social order. It is not a middle ground. Either women have full and equal rights as individuals, or they don’t.

        I disagree. Tradition is alive and well, and thriving.

        Tradition is dead in this specific sense: a real cultural tradition is not optional. Traditional people grow up in, and constitute, traditional cultures. They live that way because that is who they are, they have no other choices really. Modernized, urbanized, cosmopolitans like us are not part of a living tradition, and if we choose to try and re-create one, well, that is all very well, but it is not the same thing. It’s kind of a postmodern quotation of tradition. We don’t have access to real traditional life, so in that sense it’s dead.

        If you are referring to the Israelites time in Egypt, you may or may not recall that they were there as slaves.

        Yeah I kind of recall that. But they were not slaves originally. Joseph was councilor to Pharaoh. But sure, you could read the story as a failure of multiculturalism. The Jews were doing quite well in Egypt, until they weren’t. Quite like the more recent example of Europe, where the Jews were also doing quite well, until they weren’t, because they “destabilized society”.

        That is really a telling phrase; don’t think I’ve ever heard the Exodus story put in those terms before, but then I usually don’t get to hear it from the Egyptian side. “Go down, Moses, and apologize to Pharaoh for destabilizing society”

      • Way to miss the point. I was talking about the diversity of individuals, not of cultures.

        Cultures are populated by individuals. If diversity of thought can’t work among individuals, how can diversity of thought among cultures? Imagine you draw a box and fill it with a thousand circles and color in the circles according to their culture. If all the cultures are the same color, the box has a culture. If you fill the circles with three colors, then there are three cultures in the box, and you cannot describe the box as having a multiculture. If every circle has a different color, there is no culture.

        There is no such thing as a multiculture, there are only different cultures that live together, and where those cultures have disparate values, instability is introduced.

        that’s your fetish, not mine.

        Being dismissive of my counterargument as a “fetish” because you do not want to address it is not a serious way of thinking about this. The whole crux of my argument about multiculturalism is in response to your original comment:

        I’d think you might be pleased, since its a good example of the utter failure of an attempt (half-hearted and inept) to impose a modern, cosmopolitan state in an area which much prefers cultural uniformity and theocracy.

        Cultural uniformity is stable. You have so far not said much against this other than that my mentioning this point is a fetish. That’s fine, but with just about your next breath you say:

        I am disappointed in this failure to take your own ideas seriously.

        Which again, think what you like but belittling my arguments because you don’t want to address them doesn’t lend itself to seriousness.

        claiming to be peaceful and apolitical, in the context of the rest of what gets said on this site, which for the purposes of this conversation I have to take as a unified whole.

        I haven’t seen anyone here advocating for violent struggle. I am starting to see a little clearer your POV, I think. I would frame it as a syllogism this way:
        – All politics implies violence, either in threat or act
        – political beliefs can only be held honestly if they can be followed to the point of violence
        – therefore, opposing political beliefs are scary because they threaten violence against me

        Would you agree with this? So that’s why this apolitical idea I am talking about is bewildering to you, because I am proclaiming a belief I am unwilling to follow up with violence. This is what makes Christianity so radical.

        It is of course right-wing, because that’s what right-wing means: authority and tradition, or at least their simulacra.

        This is an important clarification. I don’t agree with that definition of right wing.

        When I talk about conservatives, republicans, right-liberals of all sorts, my understanding and what I have in mind when I talk about them is that they are just as modern as their left leaning counterparts, but would like the leftward acceleration to stop. Conservatism will give ground once and declare “no further” and fight for a while before giving ground again. Conservatives are the losing end of a tug of war with progressivism. Republicans–at least, the ones that are politicians, are cut from this cloth, to my mind. Republicans want to be polite and amicable and unobtrusive and fight very hard for nothing to happen and can’t seem to get it together to get anything done towards their own agenda, because their own agenda is very much defined as a reaction to liberalism. Trumpism is the opposite of that: no politeness or amicability, but fighting very hard towards their own agenda. That’s why even republicans hated him. Various other varieties of right-wing are different combinations of these attributes I’m describing.

        At no point do conservatives, republicans, right-liberals aspire to tyrannical authoritarianism (these attributes were unjustly applied to Trump); at no point do these groups have a coherent attachment to tradition except where they happen to also be Christian and/or Catholic. Traditionalism transcends the paradigm of liberalism and that is why it can be construed as orthogonal to it.

        and I assume attract overlapping crowds.(…) but they are clearly allies in some sense and to pretend otherwise is just being disingenuous.

        This entire attitude is predicated on an assumption. I don’t know what blogs you consider to be in “our neighborhood” but I think it would be wise to not blame us for associations you are assuming are valid.

        That is a political position in which women are subordinated

        At no point did I specify that the woman’s role in a family is to be a subordinate and/or inferior one. Everyone has a role to play, and being a leader of the household is a role and there is a way to play that role well and a way to play that role poorly. No one has made any argument about reducing the rights of women. Having a role to play necessarily means you cannot do other things you may want to do because you have responsibilities. People who are employed must show up to work. People whose vocation is mother or fatherhood must perform that vocation to their utmost every day of their lives. It is per se limiting. Perfect unlimited liberality is perfect disorder and chaos.

        Traditional people grow up in, and constitute, traditional cultures.

        This is an interesting worldview and I am going to have to take some time to digest it. It is another nugget of information that helps make your POV make more sense to me. Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems like you view tradition almost as like, I don’t know, an ethnicity maybe? Maybe a closer analogy would be Orthodox Judaism. Orthodox Judaism is “passed down” from the mother, so I have been told. Truly Orthodox Jews marry other truly orthodox jews and produce truly orthodox children. If any of those children marry outside of orthodox judaism, then there are fewer and fewer orthodox jews. Over time as attrition takes hold, there will be no orthodox jews.

        If you view tradition in this way, then tradition can do naught but stagnate and die and anyone who claims to be a traditionalist is grasping for something lost, because their branch has already been severed and cannot be restored. Is this an accurate restatement of your POV? I’ve never heard it presented that way and it is interesting. I don’t agree but let me make sure I understand you first.

  5. The nihilism which now pervades the West, and especially America, has, I think, always been around in spotty nooks here and there, but like all plagues, after long festering, optimal conditions present, the spore blows up and runs its course through weakened populations.

    In America, contempt is the prevailing sentiment of one for another. Those who consider themselves superior, e.g. the Pharoahs, Alexander, Qin Shi Huang, Napoleon, Shickelgruber, the Soviets, the CCP, et al, have always required the creation and subjugation of an inferior. Human beings naturally herd, animal-like. Even Eliot’s positive cultures herded and contemned. They just didn’t turn it on themselves. That, I think, is the natural order of things throughout much of history and is a characteristic of mankind.

    The perverse nature of modern Western contempt is that its genesis is self-loathing. The malignant narcissist projects his worst qualities onto an innocent target, as a deflection from what he hates most: himself. And then, he lionizes himself, unable to withstand any assault on the fragile ego.

    Why Nietszche was a poster boy for the Me Generation might be explained thereby. “And be on thy guard against the good and just! They would fain crucify those who devise their own virtue–they hate the lonesome ones.” Imagine praising oneself for being “bad and unjust!” Then, 1968: the rock n rollers and the fans of their bad behavior (and worse “music,” the movie fables spun about miserable mafiosi, the love of the zombie blasphemy, the assault on the body with tattoos and piercings… Abjectness raised to an “art” — this was Hunter S. Thompson’s stock-in-trade — like the cultivation of poisonous plants.

    We have (well, not me, but many Americans) a negative culture, I think, in large part, for this reason, what psychologists consider to be a developmental defect, now run rampant. Nothing can be done about it. It must play itself out. During the Black Death, Transylvania was largely unaffected, but only because it was, by its own nature, inaccessible.

    • Thanks for this very interesting and provocative comment. I’ve come to think that nihilism is unavoidable in times of cultural decay. I feel it in myself. Most of us are not, individually, strong enough to sustain a healthy and confident belief in a set of values unless those values are reinforced and ratified by our surroundings. Many people on the right have made fun of “safe spaces,” but the truth is that most people need to inhabit a “safe space” where their beliefs are not challenged, mocked or ignored. Nihilism is just another name for what the old sociologists called anomie, and Durkheim taught us that anomie is the rotting fruit of urban diversity.

      I personally see cultural chauvinism as the first step towards nihilism, since the cultural chauvinist is responding to a perceived cultural challenge. I will not feel a need to belittle a culture until I have begun to fear that culture. Just as the boastful man is insecure, so is the cultural chauvinist. When I say cultural chauvinism, I do not mean cultural pride. I think that it is normal and healthy for members of a culture to think their culture superior to that of their neighbors, and I do not think that this cultural pride entails contempt. It is, in fact, disastrous to think that my culture (or religion) is of equal value to some other culture (or religion) because my culture (and religion) is the source of all my values. If my culture (or religion) is arbitrary, then all my values are arbitrary. Hello nihilism!

      I share your fatalism about our cultural trajectory. I know the history of the scoundrels who have hurried us down the primrose path, but believe every great culture walks down the primrose path sooner or later. Success has within it the seeds of its own destruction and those who understand this accept decline with melancholy stoicism.

      • I can’t say I am fatalistic; my conclusion is that idea-viruses run their course through weakened populations. But knowing that a hundred million or more strong and active consciousnesses, ever more engaged, and in regions that still healthy, I remain very hopeful. To that extent, yes, hopeful, because we have never seen such strength in such numbers before and growing dramatically.

        That said, one can fully expect the destruction of institutions that are familiar to all. But which of those that have grown to become pre-eminent over the past 50 years are actually doing worthwhile work now? I can’t think of many. What is the value of a patch of belladonna? Burn it, plow it under and plant with good seed. True, much of the ground we will find salted, but it’s a big country.

  6. Pingback: Christian Theocracy is an Oxymoron – The Orthosphere

  7. Stability is one value among many. It’s not the most important one for me. Conservatives obviously value stability more than progressives. If a regime is unjust and you are an advocate of stability, you are advocating for injustice. For instance – African-Americans have gotten a rather raw deal from this country, enslaved, murdered, stolen from and oppressed in all kinds of ways. Why on earth should they be motivated by stability? They want to improve things. Of course, some blacks succumb to the paralyzing fear of change that is conservatism.

    So that’s why this apolitical idea I am talking about is bewildering to you, because I am proclaiming a belief I am unwilling to follow up with violence.

    It’s not “bewildering”. I don’t really care about your personal beliefs.

    I don’t agree with that definition of right wing.

    It doesn’t matter to me whether you agree with it or not. I’m talking about the actual existing right wing and using commonly accepted language to do so; the term “right-wing” originated during the French Revolution and refers, as I said, to those supporting tradition and monarchial authority.

    When I talk about conservatives, republicans, right-liberals of all sorts, my understanding and what I have in mind when I talk about them is that they are just as modern as their left leaning counterparts, but would like the leftward acceleration to stop

    I have to say, you are boring me. The only interesting thing about this site is that people here generally recognize that to achieve their ideal society, it is not sufficient to halt progress, or revert to the 1950s. No, the problem is deeper and undoing it requires undoing not only the sixties but the French Revolution, the Enlightenment, the Protestant Reformation, and all the other major developments of modernism. (the American Revolution would also fall into this category but somehow that one isn’t talked about so much).

    I obviously don’t want to undo those, but aside from that I largely agree – these are all important, linked developments, associated with a general collapse of traditional authority, and a host of attendant problems.

    But the idea that you can reverse these massive social upheavals while still retaining modern science and technology is just stupid.

    Republicans want to be polite and amicable and unobtrusive and fight very hard for nothing to happen…Trumpism is the opposite of that: no politeness or amicability, but fighting very hard towards their own agenda. That’s why even republicans hated him.

    Not enough Republicans hated Trump or Trumpism to come out against it; only a very small minority have dared to do that, he is now the face and the soul of the party. Are you not aware of what is going on in this country? Whatever part of the Republican party that might be polite and amicable (Mitt Romney maybe?) has been totally defeated by the radical and violent fringe. That’s your party, regardless of what violence may or may not be in your heart.

    At no point did I specify that the woman’s role in a family is to be a subordinate and/or inferior one.

    You compared a family to a military platoon, in which there is a clear distinction between those who command and those who are subordinate. Stop wasting my time with obvious dodging and prevarication, it’s very boring.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but it __seems__ like you view tradition almost as like, I don’t know, an ethnicity maybe?

    Sort of. Traditional societies are generally small-scale, local, pre-modern, particularist rather than universalist and organized by an orally transmitted set of customs and practices. The contrast between traditional and modern societies is sort of sociology 101. Native Americans lived in traditional societies; the white men that conquered their land were a modern society.

  8. I have to say, you are boring me.

    Stability is one value among many. It’s not the most important one for me.

    I don’t really care about your personal beliefs.

    But the idea (…) is just stupid

    Stop wasting my time with obvious dodging and prevarication, it’s very boring

    Let me get this straight: We are discussing the truth of matters regarding culture, tradition, and ways they overlap with politics. My ideas are boring, stupid, and a waste of your time. You might agree with me in that I think your ideas are interesting and lively and very much worth the effort of responding. You might be surprised what you learn when you pause the pursuit of novelty and actually take what other people are saying (if not what I am saying) seriously. Along the road of self satisfaction lies complacency and intellectual laziness, and while I could not accuse you of being intellectually lazy (as you frequently come here to spar), you are not engaging with me and my ideas in a serious way if the best you can come up with is:

    I have to say, you are boring me.

    But none of that paragraph matters because:

    I don’t really care about your personal beliefs.

    So I am going to attempt a reply to the substance of your comment, but I am not going to try to make it less boring for you. It will be what it will be.
    ***

    Conservatives obviously value stability more than progressives.

    What is interesting about this to me is that stability is what promotes longevity. If progressives don’t value stability then would it be fair to say they value achieving their political ends at whatever cost? Because that seems to me like a good way to take power do what they can with it, and then lose it due to the chaos and instability. Conservatives might have a less interesting or drastic agenda, but when they get power they keep the state going.

    The archetypical conservative by this definition is Cicero. Cicero was a stability uber-alles senator in Rome and in the pursuit of stability he ended up switching sides multiple times and promoting a policy of appeasement of Caesar, who was himself a progressive (by these definitions). Cicero was unable to contain Caesar because Caesar was willing to destabilize the state in order to achieve his ends. Cicero’s career before Caesar was a stable one; Caesar’s was unstable but incredibly powerful.

    the term “right-wing” originated during the French Revolution and refers, as I said, to those supporting tradition and monarchial authority.

    That is different from:

    It is of course right-wing, because that’s what right-wing means: authority and tradition, or at least their simulacra.

    Not all “authority” is equal. Monarchy does not mean tyranny. Monarchical authority is closer to a reverence for tradition than it is to a love of power.

    No, the problem is deeper and undoing it requires undoing not only the sixties but the French Revolution, the Enlightenment, the Protestant Reformation, and all the other major developments of modernism. (the American Revolution would also fall into this category but somehow that one isn’t talked about so much).

    Where did this idea of undoing come from? I don’t advocate for undoing, because of the points you mention. We could no easier undo the last 100 years than we could make the earth spin backwards. A good analogy might be the Chesapeake Bay. When the English first arrived in Virginia, the Chesapeake Bay was clear and you could see to great depths. Industry and the depletion of oxygen in the Bay has ruined its clarity and depleted it’s ecosystem. You can’t “undo” pollution–even if you could snap your fingers and erase it, the ecosystem itself would be damaged. Tradition is a restoration–look at what worked before and implement it again. As it happens, there are pockets of the Chesapeake Bay which are being clarified and restored by this very method.

    You compared a family to a military platoon, in which there is a clear distinction between those who command and those who are subordinate.

    You will see that my point was not about command authority and more about the synchronicity of everyone’s roles to the harmony of the unit. You are arguing against a point I did not make.

    Traditional societies are generally small-scale, local, pre-modern, particularist

    This approaches a point Kristor makes about subsidiarity. Small and local implies subsidiary. That is how Traditional societies can engage on the large scale. The operations happen locally, the Sovereign handles the big picture stuff and coordinates the subsidiary units to the good of the whole.

    • We conservatives prefer public stability, also known as public order, because this affords us the liberty of private liberty. You can call that private liberty private disorder if you like. When I am driving in orderly traffic, my mind is free to roam and wander. When I drive in disorderly traffic, I must concentrate on the road. Men like a.morphous approve public disorder because they disapprove private liberty. Particularly private liberty for men like us, who are essentially backwards children with vicious dispositions.

    • If I find you boring, don’t take it personally or as an insult. To the extent you views are reasonable and moderate, that’s no doubt a good thing in real life. But this is the internet and I’m more interested in weirdos who take their beliefs to their logical extreme. In contrast, you seem to be avoiding deducing the consequences of your beliefs.
      Maybe we can agree that temperamentally, conservatives value stability more than progressives. That doesn’t mean that progressives want to change everything for its own sake or don’t value stability at all.

      Where did this idea of undoing come from? I don’t advocate for undoing,

      Maybe not. Here’s a quote from a random orthosphere post that is not quite advocating for undoing, but makes it clear it would like to undo the Protestant Reformation, were it possible (from https://orthosphere.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/putting-out-the-lights-a-scrap-from-the-ashes/ )

      The Protestant Reformation looms large in neo-reactionary thought.  This is because it saw the birth of the Spirit of Jacobinism, and because Neo-reaction is, on my understanding, reaction against this Spirit.

      If you disagree, well, OK, apologies again for confusing who advocates what around here.

      You will see that my point was not about command authority and more about the synchronicity of everyone’s roles to the harmony of the unit.

      Who would disagree that in a group, everyone has to play different roles that contribute to the overall functioning? But an Army platoon has a specific way of achieving that – hierarchical discipline under the threat of punishment. If your point is not that a family should be similarly organized, then it is no point at all.
      This is what I mean by boring. The people I was trying to link to you are frank about wanting to organize families by patriarchal domination and radical subordination of women. If you don’t believe in that sort of thing, well, good for you, but it’s not as interesting.

      • “Reasonable and moderate” is an oxymoron. A man can be moderate at the expense of reason, or reasonable at the expense of moderation, but he cannot be reasonable and moderate. As you say here, most “logical conclusions” are radical conclusions. This is true on the Right just as it is on the Left. Moderate conclusions are pragmatic conclusions, and pragmatism is, of course, its own kind of reason. If we do not work out a pragmatic modus vivendi with our ideological adversaries, we will not have peace to work out the logical conclusions of our ideas.

        My sense is that the Left understands this far better than the Right. On the Left, moderation is purely pragmatic, and the reasonable (i.e. logical and radical) conclusions are never forgotten. In our very small way, we Orthospherians are trying to foster a far more radical Right. For instance, a Right that at least asks if there is a radical difference between blue-haired harpies and blond-haired harpies.

      • @JMSmith: Well OK, I was asking for extremism and you are delivering it, in a stronger form than I wanted. I have to say I’m kind of surprised to find myself more conservative than you, in the sense that I have some respect for the epistemological caution of Chesterton or Burke. They don’t trust the conclusions of pitilessly consistent logic from first principles, and neither do I. Humans aren’t good enough at logic to justify that.

        But here are you proclaiming that extremism is a necessary consequence of rationality. Although you then undermine your own point with “Moderate conclusions are pragmatic conclusions, and pragmatism is, of course, its own kind of reason. ” It sounds like you have both radical and moderate tendencies and are trying to work things out between them, a situation with which I can wholly empathize.

        You lost me with the harpies and the haircolor though.

      • I will admit to conflicting tendencies in myself, tending to severity in theory and leniency in practice. This may be because I lack the courage, or at least the power, to put my theory into practice, or because I share your doubts about the wisdom of theory. One advantage of splitting theory and practice is that it allows me to speculate freely, without worrying about consequences, but the obvious disadvantage is that free speculation is kind of pointless. The point I was trying to make about hair color is that the mainstream Right has a very superficial critique of feminism. Right-wing feminism differs from left-wing feminism mostly on points of style, and does not rise to the level of critique.

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