As traditionalist conservatives, we understand that the current order, although it contains pockets of relative sanity, is, overall, hopelessly corrupt. Although we knew the chances were not good, many of us had been hoping that a renewal of American society could somehow be brought about. We knew that the old America—the predominantly white, Christian America of ordered liberty under God and the Constitution—was in some senses gone. But while the permanent loss of America was seen as possible, even likely, it was not foremost in our minds. We generally focused on what could be done to oppose liberalism.
That has changed. While the recent presidential election did not change anything fundamental (elections cannot do that), it did reveal that even a President who obviously hates and opposes the traditional American way of life can easily be reelected. It revealed that a president who is incompetent at doing what he should, and very competent at pursuing leftist-inspired destruction, can gain the votes of the majority. It revealed anew that in the new America the enemies of a decent order have all the advantages. Barring a miracle, we cannot see how it will be possible to revive a properly-ordered (or at least adequately-ordered) American nation from sea to shining sea.
This insight did not just come from the recent election. Nearly a year ago, for example, Lawrence Auster announced that he no longer believed it possible for America to reject liberalism, and that, in his words, “…liberalism will continue until it has destroyed our civilization, and liberalism itself, having been deprived of its host, will also perish…” This conclusion was not the result of any specific event, but was rather an intuitive insight based on cumulative data.
What to Do?
It is a dreadful thing to contemplate the loss of one’s nation. An appropriate first response is mourning.
After mourning should come repentance. Part of repentance is to change our understanding of what must be done. Man naturally wants to preserve what is best about his nation, and conservatives, almost by definition, wish to defend their nation from internal (and external) enemies. It is natural for a conservative, traditionalist or otherwise, to view his task as preserving or renewing his nation.
But if this is no longer possible, what’s a conservative to do?
Long-term, the answer is clear: Serious anti-liberals must shift their long-term goal away from preserving the existing order, and work toward the creation of new, properly-ordered societies. Since American society cannot (barring a miracle) be renewed, and since the radical falsehood and evil of liberalism ensure that any society totally dominated by it (such as America) will eventually collapse, new societies will eventually take its place. We must begin laying the foundations for these future, relatively healthy societies even as we continue to live in the current corrupt society. We must be “in the world, but not of it.”
That’s the long-term goal. But as Laura Wood recently commented at her blog, “We don’t need to have a clear plan of action NOW. What we need to do now is acknowledge where we are with brutal honesty and get used to it for the time being”. It’s too soon to know exactly what must be done.
But one thing is clear: We must resist and oppose the liberal order. And we must separate ourselves, beginning mentally, from this order.
[This clarifying formulation is taken from an email conversation with Mrs. Wood.]
While “resist” and “oppose” are largely synonymous, they do have subtle differences of meaning. “Resist” is more passive in its connotation, raising the image of defense against an aggressor, while “oppose” is more comprehensive, encompassing both defense and attack.
How to Resist
Resistance and opposition require, at minimum:
1. A well-defined object to resist.
2. Good reasons why it should be resisted.
3. A goal, or at least an ideal, toward which resistance aims.
4. Practical means of resistance.
Some comments about each item on the list:
1. The objects of our resistance are leftist thinking (commonly called liberalism) and the liberal social order it has created. The thinking and the order are two parts of one inseparable package called liberalism.
2. Liberalism is to be opposed because its thinking is largely false, and its order deprives man of all that he needs in order to live like a man rather than like an animal or a demon. It deprives him of all the means of spiritual sustenance, such as God, true religion, objective morality, knowledge of philosophically first things, beauty, higher culture, family, nation, honor, and so on.
Liberalism, among other things,
- denies God, both in the sense of denying that He exists and also denying that He has any authority over us, thereby contradicting the most basic facts about reality and condemning many to unbelief and damnation.
- denies, whether implicitly or explicitly, any objective truth, because without a God to ground it, objective truth cannot exist. Unable to participate in any truth greater than himself, the man who believes what most authorities tell him is condemned to a shallow life of hedonism and nihilism, even if it is covered by a veneer of nobility or sophistication.
- tries to dishonor and suppress Christianity, thereby cutting man off from the vehicle of his salvation.
- denies that any man has true authority over any other man, thereby creating a system in which rulers and other ambitious men must use force or deception rather than leading openly and honestly.
- despises and seeks to overthrow male authority in the family, thereby causing much misery, dysfunction and nihilism, as men are deprived of their natural function and women and children are deprived of protectors, leaders, and teachers.
- declares physical science to be the highest form of knowledge, thereby denying even the possibility of man knowing the answers to his most important questions, questions concerning God, religion, morality, the meaning of life, beauty, honor, and such. Unable to answer his deepest questions, the man who believes what most authorities tell him comes to see reality itself, and therefore his own life, as fundamentally absurd.
- tries to force us to honor homosexuality and to downplay the seriousness of other forms of sexual sin, thereby encouraging sin, nihilism and social breakdown.
- encourages women to despise men and to flee their family responsibilities, thereby attacking the very foundation of human life.
- holds that the historic American nation is infected with deadly doses of “racism,” “sexism,” “homophobia,” “fundamentalism” and, more generally, “intolerance” and “ignorance,” thereby encouraging the young to hate their parents, their nation, and themselves, and enlisting many of them in liberalism’s army of destruction.
- holds discrimination and judgment to be the greatest evils, thereby depriving man of the means of understanding reality and defending himself, his family, and his people.
- targets white people for demotion and demonization at the expense of nonwhites, thereby dissolving the historic American nation and making itself the enemy of white people.
- dismantles the historic culture of America (and any other nation within which it operates), thereby creating an atmosphere of nihilistic multicultural cosmopolitanism, and producing a population of deracinated social atoms.
- encourages a popular culture of vulgarity, immaturity and ugliness, thereby demoralizing the people by teaching that beauty and honor do not exist.
- encourages high levels of immigration, especially from those most culturally alien to the native peoples, thereby depriving white Americans of their former way of life and replacing it with Balkanization, i.e., tribal strife.
- sympathizes with criminals, perverts, the insane, and, more generally, anyone and anything that is alien and shocking, thereby demoralizing the people by teaching that we cannot and must not defend ourselves against threats to our society.
- generates an ever-increasing bureaucracy of government-commissioned “experts” and the regulations they impose, thereby suppressing self-confidence, personal initiative and productive economic activity.
- subverts the traditional legal process in order to force through the changes it desires, thereby destroying respect for law and order.
3. The goal (or—if the goal is not a practical possibility right now—the ideal) of our resistance to liberalism is the establishment of a new American society or societies that are properly ordered, that is, in accord with the traditions of Christianity, America, and our local region or group. We are “traditionalists,” but not because we wish to recreate the conditions of the past. Instead, we seek a social order that is grounded in a true knowledge of how reality operates, a true knowledge of the multi-leveled order of being, containing natural, social, moral, esthetic, intellectual and spiritual components, culminating in God, the ground of all being. But because knowledge of this order of reality has been mostly suppressed by liberalism, and since we seek a social order that is mostly extinct, we must look to the wisdom and ways of the past, updated when necessary to reflect current conditions.
Since the future is unknown, and the present is radically disordered, we have no choice but to look to the past for a record of properly ordered societies. That is why we are “traditionalist” conservatives.
Traditionalist conservatives seek a social order that, among other things,
- is based on Christianity, in the sense that it affirms the basic Christian views of God, man and society but does not necessarily support only one view of exactly how man must worship or be saved from the wrath of God.
- publicly honors Christianity, and holds that theology and God-honoring philosophy, not science, are the highest forms of knowledge.
- acknowledges that some men naturally have authority over others: magistrates over citizens, clergymen over parishioners, teachers over students, husbands over wives and children, mothers over children, and so on.
- acknowledges not only that authority exists, but that male authority is of fundamental importance for the proper functioning of society at every level, from the family to the national government. Without strong male authority, exercised with competence and love, things naturally fall apart. With this authority, men, women and children can live as they ought.
- promotes what is commonly called the traditional view of male-female relations: premarital chastity, male headship of the household, female emphasis on childrearing and maintenance of the household, and the importance of birthing and properly raising children.
- holds that we ought to honor our parents and, more generally, the ways of our people.
- does not suicidally demand that the people be tolerant and inclusive of a disruptive influx of foreigners, but instead looks on the nation as a people and an order that are good and therefore to be preserved
- is intolerant of, and seeks to control, crime, vice, perversion, ugliness and the like.
- recognizes that part of our Western heritage is freedom, provided that it is an ordered freedom under God and the civil law.
- limits government, out of an understanding that government officials have a natural desire to gain and use more power, and that since government has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force, the growth of government is a fundamental threat against which we must guard. This view does not contradict the legitimacy of authority, because all legitimate authority has limits, beyond which it becomes tyrannical and therefore invalid.
- uses the law to punish criminals, with the death penalty when appropriate, rather than to satisfy procedural and bureaucratic regulations, or to promote liberalism.
- regards the nation and its history as fundamentally good, and does not seek radical change. Change is for the purpose of incremental improvement, not the radical overturning of imaginary fundamental injustices.
- holds that freedom and equality are not (contra liberalism) the primary social goods, and that they become destructive forces when not subordinated to other, more fundamental goods, such as God.
4. Some points about practical resistance:
One: The origin and continuing source of the power to resist is your mind. This may seem obvious, but man has a tendency to jump too soon into the practical realm, and to let the practical define how he thinks. If you find that no significant practical and outward resistance is possible right now, you may be in danger of becoming demoralized. Therefore you must be equipped to understand and reject liberalism regardless of your environment. The necessary source and prerequisite of all of practical resistance are your mind and spirit.
It is not enough to be non-liberal in the sense that you do not consciously think liberal thoughts or behave like a liberal. You must actively resist liberalism, or else you will either passively endorse it or actively embrace it. You must be anti-liberal, not just non-liberal.
You must be prepared to retain your spirits even when forced by external circumstances to make a show of going along with liberalism. Totalitarian regimes know that they can generally break the spirits of their opponents by forcing them make a public show of supporting the regime. But just as the Christian life begins with, and is always based upon, repentance and faith in Christ rather than outward actions, so the traditionalist resistor must first and always cultivate his internal opposition to the liberal order, an opposition based on his knowledge of the true, the good and the beautiful.
And if you are forced to make a show of going along with liberalism, see it as what it is: A show. Inwardly, you know liberalism is wrong, and you will not change your convictions to match your external behavior. Your behavior is just a pragmatic accommodation to transient circumstances. You do what you must to survive, and you choose when to fight and when not to, but you don’t give the Liberal Establishment what it wants most from you: your approval.
And not everyone can be a hero. There is great value in quiet resistance that is confined to the circle of one’s family and friends.
This is not to downplay the importance of outward actions. Man must always take some outward actions to maintain his spirit and his dignity. But we must acknowledge the priority of the inner life.
“The origin and continuing source of the power to resist is your mind.” But that isn’t quite right, is is? As Christians, we understand that nobody can resist the world unless he is in Christ, through repentance from his sins and faith in Christ. God is the ultimate source of our power to resist liberalism.
Second point: we need organizations that explicitly reject liberalism at its root, and that seek to replace it with proper thought and action. There are a fair number of non-liberal organizations, but we need anti-liberal organizations, whose raisons d’être are to oppose liberalism. The greatest need is for organizations which openly reject all of liberalism, not just part of it.
Two examples may clarify my meaning. The anti-abortion movement, correct and noble though it be, sometimes fails to acknowledge the big picture. Historically at least, one of the main reasons women have committed abortion is to avoid the stigma of unmarried pregnancy, and therefore anti-abortion organizations may not want to condemn bastardy. While it is true that you should not unnecessarily antagonize a woman whom you are trying to persuade not to commit abortion, the fact remains that we must oppose both abortion and unmarried pregnancy.
And many Christian apologetics organizations, seeking to present reasons to believe in Christ, stay away from “political” issues such as abortion and homosexuality in order not to place unnecessary stumbling blocks in front of the unbeliever. They don’t want the unbeliever to refuse to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ because he’s mad at your politics. But while it is true that one should not change the subject while presenting the gospel, we must both support Christian evangelism and oppose liberalism.
To be anti-liberal, you must understand and reject liberalism at its core principles. You must not just fail to affirm or support liberalism, you must affirm the principles that contradict liberalism.
So we need organizations that comprehensively teach anti-liberal, traditionalist principles, helping to free men and women from mental slavery to liberalism and to equip and encourage non-liberals. These organizations must not just present scholarly arguments against liberalism. The academy has an ideal of disinterested study, but the anti-liberal organization must be the opposite of disinterested. It must oppose liberalism, both morally and intellectually. It must have a clearly-defined mission of openly rejecting the falsehood and evil of liberalism, and calling for either its defeat or our separation from it.
Many will thrill to a call to action. But there are also many who sense that something is wrong with the Liberal Establishment, but who lack understanding of the real problem. These people need to be instructed, step by step, in the truths that correct the errors of liberalism. This task goes by the general name of “apologetics,” a word meaning the systematic intellectual defense of a particular doctrine or way of thinking. So we also need to develop a traditionalist apologetics.
It is easy to misunderstand the role of apologetics. Argumentation against liberalism is not done in order to make people agree with us, or to silence their disagreement. Liberals usually will not change their minds, or even silence their rhetoric, upon hearing good arguments against liberalism. And if we expose ourselves too much to the perverse system of liberalism, we will lose our morale. Some liberals occasionally change their minds upon hearing good conservative arguments, but this is rare (unless they are young), and it is especially rare for a member of the liberal ruling class to change his mind, or to stop pushing liberal policies, upon hearing good arguments. For these reasons, and they are valid reasons, some people disparage or devalue apologetics.
Instead, apologetics in defense of traditionalist conservatism serves a twofold purpose: Although it cannot make people change their minds, it can awaken, in those happy few who are receptive, an intuitive understanding of the important things that have been denied and obscured by liberalism. And apologetics can also strengthen the spirits of nonliberals, as through it they participate in the true, the good and the beautiful, thereby defending themselves from, and cleansing themselves of, the pollution of liberalism. Apologetics at its best places important truths in front of a person, and invites him to agree with them.
But important though it be, apologetics is secondary. Our primary message is liberalism’s evil and falsehood and our consequent need to separate ourselves from it. Apologetics supports this message.
There is an analogy here to Christian evangelism. In both cases, we must start with the bad news. In Christianity, the bad news is that you are a sinner under the condemnation of God. In our traditionalism, the bad news is that liberalism is dominant, false and evil. Liberalism promises freedom and life, but delivers slavery and death.
In Christianity, the good news is that through the work of Jesus Christ, your sins can be forgiven. In our traditionalism, the good news is that you can resist the evil of liberalism by discovering the suppressed truth about God, man, and society, the expression of which is largely confined to the witness of the past (that’s why we’re “traditionalists.”)
In Christianity, the response the evangelist calls for is repentance from sins and faith that Christ is God and that He has taken away your sins. In our traditionalism, the response that we call for is to take active steps to distance yourself from the system of liberalism (“repentance”) and to learn and believe what the wisdom of the ages teaches about God, man and society. (“faith.”)
In Christianity, repentance and faith are just the beginning of a new life in Christ, and there is no exact program for how the Christian is to live. But one thing is clear: the Christian is to reject and oppose three things: the world (meaning the wicked systems of the world that oppose Christ), the flesh (meaning his sinful nature) and the devil. In our traditionalism, we cannot specify in advance exactly how new societies will be midwifed, or exactly how they will be organized. That will come later. But it is clear at the beginning that we must reject and oppose the whole liberal order.
To spread the new gospel, organization will be required. Working to create such organizations is an important medium-term goal of the Traditionalist Resistance.