Politics and Tradition
Somehow, the idea of Tradition has become intertwined with nominal political movements, at least in some circles. For that to make sense, the goal of such a movement would be the restoration of a traditional society. Given that, we have analyzed to some extent the following works.
- Ananda Coomaraswamy’s Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power in Indian Theory of Government. Although that deals specifically with the Hindu tradition, it serves as a background to other works. We saw, too, how this work corrected Evola’s misconception about the relationship between the Brahman caste and the King.
- Rene Guenon’s Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power. This is more abstract than Coomaraswamy’s work since it deals with general principles rather than the specific situation in earlier civilizations.
- Guido De Giorgio’s section on the constitution of a traditional society from The Roman Tradition. This is more esoteric, since it describes the inner states associated with the various caste distinctions and the role of the Leader without reference to any specific situations or sacred scriptures. His is the only work that deals effectively with the Worker caste and the role of the Leader.
- There is Julius Evola’s essay on Monarchy with some important details. For the sake of completeness, we will next make available his essay from the Ur/Krur group with the same title of Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power. I don’t believe it has been translated into English, but let me know otherwise.
- We have mentioned Dante’s essay On Monarchy. As a political realist, he realizes that if disputes cannot be resolved rationally or spiritually, then a duel may be the ultimate solution. This applies only in certain defined situations and should be contrasted with Evola’s opinion that the result of a duel is a merely contingent event.
- Fustel de Coulanges’ The Ancient City describes the constitution of traditional societies and ancient Greece and Rome.
Although there is room for discussion among all these perspectives, there is nevertheless a family resemblance. Primary among them is the recognition of a spiritual unity and none of them begins with racial or ethnic identity. Actually, experience proves this as evidenced by the frustrations expressed by those who start from the bottom up. It is true, by the Law of Affinity, that certain traditions are appropriate to a given peoples, but once the soul and the spirit have been lost, the body loses its coherence, devolving into atomic individuals.
Hence, any political aspirations based on tradition must start with a spiritual impulse. This cannot be defined or delimited in a discourse as its source must needs be transcendent. That is why Guenon emphasized that a transformation to reverse the flow of progressive time is a task possible only for an elite who understand and live by certain principles. De Giorgio goes a step further and points out that there can only be one leader and he represents the spiritual power in the temporal realm. That is why there can ultimately be just one movement and competing movements are part of the counter Tradition.
There is a trend in certain circles to gather disparate material together, so long as they are “on the right” in some way, in the vain hope that a unitary movement will ensue. This is the intellectual analog of Mulligan Stew. When Hobos came together, whatever edibles they could gather would be tossed into the pot to make a stew; obviously it would never be the same from day to day. That is food suitable for bums, not for men. Likewise, that applies to “intellectual” mulligan stew.
Innocent as Doves
In a recent episode of Magic City, the Cuban trophy wife starts a conversation with her husband, the owner of a Miami Beach hotel.
Wife: In my world, lying and cheating your way to success is not a virtue.
Husband: In my world, I protect those I love.
Wife: Whatever it takes?
Husband: Whatever it takes!
How do they coexist in the same world? One is as innocent as a dove, the other as wise as a serpent. The Leader takes on the sins of the people in order to keep them innocent.
Two books have come to my attention this week; one a history of the movement inaugurated by Guenon, the other a history of Jesus penned by a Muslim. The former is René Guénon: Une politique de l’esprit by David Bisson. I have not seen it, but only partly read a review of it. Unable to conceive of transcendence, the professor reduces Guenon to a metapolitical movement and seeks to categorize him among similar figures of his time.
The premise is incorrect, since Guenon is the latest in a long line of metaphysicians. Tradition, even the Western tradition, is based on the symbolic understanding of scriptures (i.e., beyond the literal interpretation), the perennial philosophy, and a knowingness beyond discursive thought.
That has been largely lost in the West. To beat an old horse, the Protestant Sola Scripture teaching displaced the perennial philosophy. Specifically, the anthropomorphic god gleaned from the literal biblical readings has displaced metaphysics. The Traditional view is that when the literal meaning conflicts with a higher understanding, then a symbolic meaning is more likely. This is beyond the intellectual domain of a professor. Unfortunately, to understand Guenon, a man must embark on the path of spiritual realization.
The other book is Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by a Muslim biblical scholar, Reza Aslan. Oddly enough, for an allegedly scholarly book, it has reached #1 on Amazon. Again, he breaks no new ground, as far as I can tell, but is yet another link in the chain of scholars looking for the true “historical” Jesus. The last such book I read several years ago was by a Marcus Borg who envisioned Jesus as a liberal democrat who would have supported universal health care.
Mr. Aslan goes further, asserting that Jesus was some sort of rabble rousing revolutionary figure, willing to overthrow the established order of things. In this, he predated by centuries that spectre that Karl Marx discovered to be haunting Europe. Since everyone who is anyone today sees himself as a zealot and revolutionary, we can well understand the popularity of this book. They are happy to let Jesus onto their team since the holy name still has a certain cachet. Unfortunately, the perpetual revolutionary will eventually run out of things to rebel against, once he becomes aware that he is actually “the man”. His path can only devolve into chaos as every trace of order is destroyed. For us, on the other hand, Jesus is the incarnation of the Logos, hence the embodiment of the very order of things.
Tiptoe Through the Tulips
Michael Hoffman has described an unusual conspiracy theory that there is a hidden cryptocracy behind seemingly contingent events. They manipulate opinion through symbols. (That is why the correct understanding of symbols is so necessary.) Curiously, they actually reveal what they are doing through popular media, particularly films.
I never took such ideas seriously, but I am now rethinking them. For example, all my life I had assumed that books like 1984 and the Brave New World were warnings to us to avoid such dystopian societies. However, I now think that they were actually preparing us to accept such a world, even willingly. There can be no doubt that we are embracing, in the West, more and more of the features described in that those books.
A creepier video can clinch the deal to any doubters. In 1970, Tiny Tim sang a song to a group of children about the polar ice caps melting and drowning all the world. (See around 42 or 43 minutes into it). I don’t know why the kids did not flip out, but consider that they are now in positions of power. If you believe in the cryptocracy, you will see that the idea of melting ice caps was implanted in to the group consciousness some 40 years ago. If you believe in science, you will see anthropogenic global warming as a great scientific discovery. I’ll leave the decision up to you, but take into consideration that Tiny Tim was no scientist.