The Orthosphere yesterday reached 1,000 posts since we began writing here in early 2012. Meaningless in itself, this passage nevertheless marks a milestone. It is fitting then to reflect on how well we have met our original purpose, of providing a traditional, orthodox Christian perspective on the maelstrom ever in progress here on Earth.
I offer, as best I can, a translation of a section from Dominique Venner’s masterwork Histoire et tradition des Européens: 30,000 ans d’identité [The History and Tradition of the Europeans: 30,000 Years of Identity,] published in French in 2002 by Éditions du Rocher. The excerpt originates in Chapter 10, “Nihilisme et Saccage de la Nature” [“Nihilism and the Exploitation of Nature”]. Venner wrote in a style that runs to the ironic and telegraphic: Phrases in brackets represent my attempt to overcome the occasional obscurity that his tendencies of irony and compression, or self-allusion, entail. Flora Montcorbier, whom Venner cites in the excerpt, is a writer of the French New Right. I give the French original of the text first, followed by my attempt at an idiomatic English rendering.
I am pleased to report that an essay of mine, René Guénon and Eric Voegelin on the Degeneration of Right Order, has appeared (Part I of two parts) at the Sydney Traditionalist Forum. I hope that it might be of interest to Orthosphereans. The essay discusses the disastrous cultural and civilizational consequences of the ancient empires, especially those empires whose ambitions intersected in the Central Asian region known in Antiquity as Bactria. Both Guénon and Voegelin were fascinated by the seemingly perpetual flux and reflux of imperial ambitions in that region, where global powers remain locked in contention to the present day. The essay explores Guénon’s discussion in Spiritual Authority & Temporal Power of the “Revolt of the Kshatriyas,” a social upheaval that weakened the Indian states in the Fifth Century BC and made them vulnerable to Persian and Macedonian intervention; it also explores Voegelin’s discussion in The Ecumenic Age of “concupiscential exodus,” exemplified by Alexander’s Asian campaigns, as a destroyer of the civilized order. I argue in Part II, which will appear in the same venue next week, that the commentaries of Guénon and Voegelin on this topic are eminently applicable to the modern condition.
Western cities more than a century old all feature a stark contrast between their remaining old-fashioned neighborhoods and their horrid modern depravations of the builder’s art. In few however is the contrast as stark as in New Haven, Connecticut. Consider the view from two different windows of a single hotel room in that town, and choose one for yourself.
First, the view south over the post war cityscape:
Note that grey monolith just left of the Ikea store. Up close, it is far and away the ugliest, most brutal building I have ever seen, literally breathtaking in its visceral affront to the human body. One aches to get away from it; the feeling it provokes is subdued rage. This is perhaps why it stands now vacant. The adjacent Ikea store is positively charming by contrast.
Modern New Haven is dispiriting – it engenders despair. Few pedestrians are to be seen on its barren sidewalks, scuttling quickly on their way, heads down.
Here then is the view to the north, taking in the Yale campus:
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.
…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.
It is in the discourse of the Right a commonplace that liberal policies implement Ponzi schemes; that their wild prodigality can be justified only on the basis of magical thinking which supposes that economic and cultural goods pour forth inexhaustibly from some mysterious cornucopia, rather than as products of unstinting, intelligent, diligent, difficult, costly labor rightly and prudently directed. In this liberalism has always reminded me of the cargo cults that sprang up among natives all over Oceania in the 20th Century after their contact with Europeans, especially during and after WWII. But of these cargo cults I had had only the most cursory knowledge. I knew only that some cargo cultists thought that if they mocked up a semblance of an airstrip, planes full of goods would land to disgorge them (“If we build it, they will come;” we see the same sort of thinking at work in those who suppose that if they just show up in a nice suit or arrive in Sweden, life will be for them thenceforth all wine and roses (and blondes)).
I’m reading Mircea Eliade’s The Two and the One, wherein he discusses the cargo cults. Now that thanks to him I now know a bit more about them, my hunch about liberalism has borne out to a truly spooky degree. Consider the following extended passages (page 125 ff.), and feel the prickle of the hairs on your neck as you begin to comprehend the true immensity of the intellectual gulf that separates us from latter day liberals:
Our own Thomas Bertonneau is one of the contributors to the 2015 Symposium of our friends over at the Sydney Traditionalist Forum, Quo Vadis Conservatism: or, Do Traditionalists have a Place in the Current Party Political System?
Before your knee jerks and you answer “No,” go check out the Forum, get educated about the question … and then answer, “No.”
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.
The orthosphere – or as Bruce Charlton first proposed we call it, the kalbosphere – continues its penetration of the Christian Right. The lead article in the most recent edition of First Things is by Orthospherean Jim Kalb, his second appearance in that journal this year.
Technocracy Now is another of Jim’s incisive analyses of liberalism. An excerpt: