Sydney Traditionalist Forum: 2016 Symposium

Our friends at Sydney Trads have just published their 2016 Symposium, the latest in what must be hoped will be a long series of similar collections. Among the essays are three by Orthosphereans: Tom Bertonneau, Jim Kalb, and myself. The other contributors are Barry Spurr, Alain de Benoist, Krzysztof Urbanek, Peter King, Gwendolyn Taunton, Luke Torrisi, Michael Tung, and Valdis Grinsteins.

Many thanks to our antipodean colleagues for their efforts in mounting the Symposia.

The Most Important thing a Non-Liberal Blogger can do…

…is teach basic truths. You don’t have to be esoteric, profound, edgy, or popular. You just have to teach important truths.

We live in a time of universal destruction. Intellectual destruction. Cultural destruction. Moral destruction. Religious destruction. And so on.  The noblest thing a blogger not in thrall to the liberal zeitgeist can do is teach important truths. Because man needs truth.

That way you can sleep well at night and keep your head high during the day.

Silly Retortion on the Left

According to the current Leftist narrative, everything evil in the world is the fault of white Christian men, for this world is the world that such men built and have maintained. If this is true, then either white Christian men are just that much better than every other sort of human, and therefore in justice *ought* to rule the planet, or else they are the only sort of men who have free agency, ergo any real power. Notice that the second alternative is just the most extreme version of the first: if white Christian men are the only sort with real agency, then they are categorically superior to all others, who are their pawns and puppets, whom they have always ruled, and will always rule, despite appearances to the contrary.

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The Revolution Devours Her Young

I remarked the other day that for all practical purposes Islam cannot any longer attack the West except by attacking liberal institutions; for, the institutions of the West are all liberal.

But the same is of course true for liberals themselves. The only way they can attack the Establishment is by attacking liberals, because the Establishment is pervasively liberal. There are no right wing institutions out there, other than a few think tanks and magazines that don’t have budgets for the sorts of jobs that liberals are fit to do, with the result that few liberals infest their offices.

Who now is the Left attacking, and destroying? The Progressives who run the universities. Schadenfreude ain’t in it.

The Verdict of Paris

I’d been thinking I ought to post something about the massacre in Paris last weekend but without knowing quite what. Then today I realized that I had already posted on the subject, *before it even happened.* In On the Delicacy of Civilization, I distinguished in passing between crimes *within* a civilization and attacks upon it from without. Like market failure, crime is a vice and weakness of civilization. It may redound to civil death, but such deaths are endogenous, analogous therefore to kidney failure, cancer, or heart disease. In a sense, such deaths are processes of civilization.

An attack from without is more like … well, like an attack on a person, than it is like a disease. Diseases make attacks more likely, insofar as they are evident in outward weakness, as is usually the case with disease. But they don’t cause the attack; they rather only reduce its apparent cost to the attacker, thus inclining him more to attack.

As I pointed out in that post, any high civilization organized on the basis of a supposition that its denizens will not try to destroy it is quite vulnerable to sabotage at the hands of a fifth column of alien aggressors from another, antithetical civilization.

Among the galaxy of confusions evident in our leaders, the confusion between crime and attack is among the most important and often manifest. We hear always about “bringing terrorists to justice,” when justice ain’t in it. Such talk is confused, and confusing. One cannot but think that, the confusion being so very obtuse, it must be intentional, and tendentious.

Among all the things I might say about Paris, this only has not (so far as I know) been said already a thousand times: the attack in Paris. as being directed against the Power of the West, was directed *against the liberal order.* It is the liberal order that suffers from the attack. To the extent that it succeeded in jarring the liberal elite away from liberalism and toward a police state (Francois Hollande has already proposed some changes to the French Constitution), *it undermined liberalism.*

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On the Delicacy of Civilization

Civilization is amazingly robust so long as everyone in its ambit agrees in a commitment to its fundamental proposals. When everyone in Rome does as the Romans do, Rome is (within her own precincts at least) invincible. But when the phalanx breaks even a little, it tends to fall apart altogether.

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Letter from Zeboim 1

The modern American university does not appear to best advantage when viewed from the Right. Viewed from the Left, it appears as a glistening City on a Hill. From the Right, it appears as one of the seedier Cities of the Plain. If not Sodom itself, perhaps Zeboim.

Zeboim came in for rough treatment in Genesis, but recovered and was back in business by the time of 1 Samuel. In fact, I find my ancestors hard at work in Zeboim, for it was to that city that the Israelites took themselves when they needed to sharpen an ax or a mattock, as in their own country “there was no Smith to be found” (1 Samuel 13: 19-20).

This is a letter from Zeboim, where this Smith has been hammering young scholars on the anvil of knowledge for twenty-five years. The sign outside my shop says I am a geographer, but as you are about to see, this advertisement tells you less than you may imagine, since a man who tells you he is a geographer doesn’t tell you much at all.

Consider the items that follow. They are précises of “calls for papers” (CFPs) that I recently received from geographers in my sub-specialty (cultural-historical geography). These geographers are assembling “sessions” of papers to be read at the big geography shindig in San Francisco next spring, and they sent these CFPs to various list-serves in order to round up participants. My précises are intended to highlight the ludicrous, but they are not misleading and all the titles and quotes are real. I have not cherry-picked weird CFPs.

Welcome to Zeboim!

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Christian, is the Unbeliever Your Enemy?

Short answer:  In one sense, no. In another sense, maybe. In yet another sense, definitely yes.

*

Mark Citadel, at his blog, posts an excellent essay Parallel Blueprint to Victory. In it he points to the successful colonization of parts of Western Europe by Muslims who reject their host societies, and he urges Christians to learn from their success.  This post is not an evaluation of Mr. Citadel’s entire essay, but a meditation on part of it: Are unbelievers our enemies?

Some quotes from Mr. Citadel:

The solution for us [traditionalists] is not much different from the solution that Muslim immigrants to Europe have exemplified.

We call this the ‘parallel society’. This is not the creation of a hermit kingdom, it is the creation of [an] entirely separate and hostile social system that runs alongside the main culture.

…this approach is much more openly hostile than the one which [Rod] Dreher espoused, and I would argue it is this aggressive nature that determines long-term stagnation or long-term victory.

[snip]

Christians primarily need to start raising their children on two essential doctrines of this struggle.

1) You are Christian, you were born Christian, you will die Christian.

2) The world is not Christian. The world is your enemy.

[Emphasis in original.]

The key word for the present discussion is hostile. Since we are Christians, says Mr. Citadel, we should be hostile to those who are hostile to us. But to what extent are unbelievers our enemies? Continue reading

Importance Iff God

A public discourse that recuses from any reference to a supreme and ultimate and ultimately binding moral order – that is, i.e., morally relativistic – forecloses any possibility of investing any public act with true and perfectly general meaning. When there is nothing that must in virtue of its factual meaning under the highest heaven certainly mean therefore at least one same thing to everyone beneath the orbit of the moon, nothing can mean the same thing to anyone except by happenstance, or by the constraints ever imposed upon all creatures by the logos of corporeal becoming (as, e.g., when the flood approaches and everyone feels it truly and existentially important and valuable to flee, regardless of their politics or sexual identification).

To put it bluntly: if you can’t talk of God and his will for us in a language that everyone understands and accepts (even if only pro forma), then nothing you say can be quite definite, in the final analysis, or therefore definitive, or then authoritative, or suasive. Every utterance then will be tentative, merely pro forma and nothing more; ergo, not really binding, or even interesting, but only conventionally. At most, you’ll muster only indignant insistence about this or that outrage, full of sound and fury but, as signifying really nothing, empty of any real conviction.

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Collapse: It’s What Man Does

Collapse is what man does. It is what we do best; in it, we do our best. It is what we are specially adapted to cope with. It has formed us again and again. Civilization today is what it is, and has reached its present heights of power, capability, knowledge and coordination, because of the many civilized orders that preceded it, and that worked brilliantly until suddenly they didn’t. From their failures, we may keep learning how not to fail. Tradition is the lore of past collapses; new collapses cannot but refresh tradition, even as they edit and reform it. 

Naturally and rightly we seek to avoid it, because collapse is always costly, and painful. But so is life; is there any human life that suffers no collapses, no irreparable disasters? The question answers itself. How then might any society of humans ever do otherwise? We ought then look upon the coming collapse as a runner looks forward to a race, or a singer to a recital – or even as a runner looks forward to a workout, or a singer to her scales. The adversity of collapse makes man himself, and more than he has been.

Bring it on.