If we make it we can all sit back and laugh.
But I fear tomorrow I’ll be crying…
…Yes I fear tomorrow I’ll be crying.
Note: The following is the transcript of a lecture given at National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan. The lecture was delivered in English, with an optional Mandarin Chinese translation provided via headset.
Ladies and gentlemen, students, thank you for being here with me today, on the important occasion of what I hope will be the first in a series of many lectures in a series. I myself am grateful to be here in Taiwan to address the professors and students in this lecture hall, and hope that what I’m going to say here can be of use to all of you, and perhaps challenges your view of the world around you.
Now then, to begin, I work in a technical field by profession. So you might be asking yourself, why me, of all people, would like to talk about Tradition and Traditionalism. But I would ask you to be patient and hear my reasons. First, I’ve always been interested in the development of new technologies, not just as isolated events, but as a continuum, so to speak. For instance, one could trace the American space program not just back to Werner von Braun, but much further to the 15th century, during which European countries started building bigger and bigger armies, requiring them to draft largely from civilian populations. During the Napoleonic Wars, this necessitated the creation of canned food rations. The quest for better food preservation lead to air conditioning and refrigeration, and in 1892 Sir James Dewar invented a container that could keep liquids hot or cold. This in turn eventually allowed people to store either liquid hydrogen or oxygen, which are key ingredients in rocket fuel.
How does this tie in with Traditionalism? In one sense, it shows the dominant paradigm of the world. Namely, the this is paradigm of progress. In 1932 English physician Montague David Eder wrote: “The myth of progress states that civilization has moved, is moving, and will move in a desirable direction.” But in another sense, it also raises some difficult questions: First, is it possible to sustain such “progress” forever? Perhaps there are some people here who will say, “Of course! Just look at where were were compared to even five years ago!” But in my opinion, given limited resources, given our lifestyles, given the occurences in the world today, it could be possible that progress might not be indefinite. This leads us to the idea that if progress may not be sustainable, can it regress? And the answer here, I think is much more certain. As we may glean from history, societies too display morbidity, and can easily collapse.
But, historical examples and current data state that this could very well turn out to be true, whatever the reasons are. Therefore we must re-think our attitude towards this idea of progress. It is true that technology has improved immensely, but what about in other fields? In third world countries, it has lead to poverty and suffering. And in the first world, what is plainly felt is the tragic way that man, a primary and supra-material essence, has been forgotten. The material “needs” that are generated every day now transform people into worshippers of consumption. Day by day, heavier burdens are imposed on a frenetic populace, so that modern technological prodigies, who ought to have freed mankind from servitude to manual labor and increased people’s leisure time, cannot do even that much. In effect, the material needs are now outpacing the tremendous speed of production technology. If progress is to be rejected then, it leads to a cyclical, rather than linear view of history, which rejects universal progress, and which is at the heart of all traditional outlooks: Egyptian, Chinese, Persian, Greek, Roman, Hindu, and so on and so forth. The Italian philosopher, Julius Evola, who was one of the foremost Traditionalists, draws upon the Cyclical model, as well.
Now if you will, the general “way of being” in the modern world can be largely divided into two main, overlapping categories: intellectual systems, and social systems. It goes without saying that the intellectual systems must precede social systems, because any social system — even an imperfect one — must have some theoretical and ideological basis. For instance, it would be impossible that we could conceive of a modern America without the deeply delusional “Americanisms” that their politicians and citizens are infamous for. Therefore, we can see that the social systems which a people ultimately come to reject or embrace inherently is a consequence of the weltanschauung of any given society. If our diagnosis that societies today are moribund and lifeless, then it should seem a matter of worldview, and not merely a matter of legal review which would be the cure, and the problems which the modern world faces – that is to say the entire world, but the West is more affected by it than other places – is a fundamentally internal and spiritual one.
There can be no doubt that we live in a confusing time of many contradictions and changing societal norms. Our intellectuals, who are engaged in the monumental struggle to uphold Tradition, find themselves not only bearing upon themselves the weight of defending it from the radical left, but also from self-professed rightists who act as the de-facto allies of the left. You know, of course, that I refer to the American neo-conservatives, who, in reality derive their ideology from Trotsky. This is a time when our enemies resort to unprecedented methods of viscous slander regarding those who resist globalism and liberalism. Therefore we face the task of not only defending our line of thought from these misleading statements, but also protecting the youth from falling into the trap of adopting decadent lifestyles and espousing them among their peers.
From one perspective, we must look at this from the perspective of a mass movement which rejects the Western idea of liberalism. Western liberalism, is, in fact the last form of imperialism, but it has nothing to offer to the peoples of the developing world. It has even destroyed the first world and made life there unbearable, so how could anyone think that it could have the potential to improve the developing nations? Liberalism destroys cultures and subjects those living in other nations to a desolate fate. The imposition of liberalism has undoubtedly destroyed families, and the very fabric of those societies. So we cannot, as those living outside the West, embrace the idea of liberalism in any form.
But also, to the established politicians today the concept of “progress” means the promotion of all manners of destructive forces: the destruction of the family, the secularization of society and standardization of its members, and the corruption of economy and intellect. As it stands today, much of this ideological confusion is due to the fact that renegades have appeared in the upper strata of all areas of academics, politics, and economics. In the historical situation in which traditional moralities had become a powerful force in the guidance of the affairs of state, liberals attached a great importance to the strategy of either undermining and infiltrating it, or by declaring war outright. In accordance with this strategy, today’s liberals make increasingly malevolent attempts to ensure the success of their failed social engineering experiments, and make attempts to force the acceptance of the force acceptance their of propaganda.
If the problem’s genesis is internal, then it would be appropriate to look at the outward appearance of society for the symptoms of societal weakness and spiritual decay. On the first front, today we are witnessing the implosion of the American system, with both the Tea Party one one hand and the Occupation of Wall Street on the other. But if we look at social systems, economic systems at the root cause then there is a dead end. Utopianism ultimately becomes the failed dream which does not become a reality. Even if we change systems, we don’t have a real solution because all the modern outlooks regard man as an economic animal; their differing contours reflect the issue of which of the two will provide more successfully for the needs of this animal.
And once we begin to allow secular ideas to determine our needs, what passes for a need is really only a carnal or material desire. The result is a disaster. Starting with the French Revolution, Humanity became more and more alienated every day. People were drowned in a whirlwind of quantity, and moral greatness or spiritual aptitude had been cast aside. Societies fragmented because each person claimed for himself authority and a certain “individualism”. However, in a communist society, things are no better. In communist society, we find a similar downward curve in human moral values. It is true that the Soviet Union had a slightly better cultural life than the Americans, but for the most part these days are over. Contemporary communism, as idealized by American and European intellectuals, embraces the same bourgeois attitudes towards social behavior and individual outlook as do their capitalist counterparts. But really, these two systems are the same, are they not? Because they actually subscribe to the notion that man is not the master of the material, but rather that material is the master of man. Whereas the traditional outlook was in fact that man occupies the pinnacle of creation, and hence is the master of his surroundings, capitalism and communism and their variants, claiming as they do to be based on contemporary science, all negate the concept of man as a primary being.
We see the result is paradoxical, yet it makes sense: people yearn for individuality, but they do so by following the crowd. In their mental lives, they are also constrained by the modern method of thinking and cannot be bothered to analyze claims which their society would deem unacceptable. The Prussian Emperor Friedrich Wilhelm IV once remarked that, “Appearances become deceptive and the consequences of clearly present causes are dismissed as superstition,” and so it is with the modern outlook, which often must resort to sophistry in order to justify its conclusions. For instance, in order to safeguard democracy and freedom, the Americans now thing that it is inevitable that they must impose democracy by might on other nations. But such an action is inherently undemocratic, and what is more sets up undemocratic regimes.
Previously I said that the modern world differs radically from the Traditional world. The differences are actually too great for me to entreat here. Actually, whole books have been written about it, so it would probably be a subject for a different lecture. Ancient society is, to use Evola’s maxim, “Upward not Forward,” meaning it seeks a fundamentally different orientation. This orientation is concerned with hierarchy, order, and moral principles. It looks to build aristocrats of the soul – people who are fearless and correct in moral bearing. It also seeks to establish the proper relationship between heaven and earth, between men and women, between kings and subjects, and so on. To illustrate the differences between now and then consider this: everywhere around the world, a wealthy merchant can today be considered a great person! Not so for the Traditional world, in which the material world does not subject mankind. Confucius placed the scholars and learned men on top, while in other societies, priests and monks were regarded as men pursuing the ideal. In ancient China, Taoism sought to remove people from the drudgery of an artificial life which tainting primordial human nature. Confucius set forth his ideas (which he said were transmitted and not invented), as the intellectual basis for a rational organization of social life, and developed into a stable society. In the Indian religions, which included Buddhism, that later was transmitted unto China, there was a clear knowledge of man coupled with a deep understanding of the unity of God, nature, and man.
When we began this lecture, I said that my interest in Traditional thought began with the simple notion of historicity and studying the progress of science. I postulated here that it might be possible for the system to collapse. The decline is especially fast in what is called the “Far West,” for a number of complex reasons which are out of the scope of this lecture. Surely, if we continue on our current path, there may be little hope for the future. There is ironically an inverted principle at play, where, although man seemingly abandons “religion” in its most formal definition, embraces a new faith: the faith of the faithless. But it is possible to at least mitigate the disaster, for those who are lucky enough to be blessed with history on their side. For those in the East, it means that you will find your own path culturally and socially, and abandon the disease that Ali Shariati, a famous Iranian philosopher once called “Weststruckness”.
We should look to the past rather than the future for the solutions to social woes. No, we do not need to abandon technology, but we need to recognize technology’s role in society and not be overcome by a so-called “machinestruckness”. Technological advances might benefit man, but they should not be relied on for the whole of entertainment and culture. But we need more than this. We need a reverence for traditional Culture, heritage, and language on which we can rebuild society and civilization. We must stop this insane worship of “things” and the glorification of the self: it was the revolutionary, Codreanu who said that it was necessary to kill in ourselves the lower world to recieve the blessings of the higher world. And this is the beginning of the path upward, not outward that Evola talked about.
At the national level, this means that issues should be faced with honesty and bravery. Nations can and should, develop self-sufficiency based on their own ideals, even if this means that they ultimately have to abandon democracy. The Islamic revolution in Iran is some indication, albeit not a perfect one, of how this may be carried out, as is the theory of Juche advanced by General Kim Il Sung of North Korea. Democracy is no sacred cow, and human rights is merely an illusion. Democracy merely posits that anyone’s opinion has as much merit as another’s, and from this representation may be formed merely by gleaning the opinions of the masses. Yet, it is the same system which also shapes the masses opinions – and in essence, it forms a dictatorship of idiots. But, even in a true dictatorship, as Pentti Linkola once said, there cannot ever be so incompetent a dictator that he would show more stupidity than the majority of the people. As for human rights, we need only look at those bodies which are promoting them. Are they not, then, selective? One can have rights for group A and not group B. For instance, in Europe one may be penalized if they dispute the official history, and they call it “hate speech”. On the other hand, it is perfectly normal to insult the beliefs of nearly 1/3 of the human population, and this is called “free speech”. At its end, the invention of human rights furthers the cause of global imperialism. We must categorically deny human rights as being a politically correct form of worship of the individual. It may seem cruel at first, but realize that long before the contemporary model of human rights arose, in which nearly every degenerate action suddenly became legal under the veneer of freedom, rights had already been established. This is not a call for inhumanity, it is a call for a peaceful and orderly way of living.
We must derive a proper lesson from all the various occurrences in the world, and resolutely reject the excesses of the modern world, as well as the slander levelled at the Traditionalist ideas, and hold bayonets more firmly in the fight against liberalism and modernism. In this way, we can face our problems with vigor, and display the intelligence and courage to turn misfortune into a blessing.